Obama's Clean Power Plan To Never See Light of Day

Katie Ramirez
June 22, 2019

Reposted with permission from EcoWatch.

On Wednesday, EPA Administration Andrew Wheeler rolled out the Trump administrations new policy on coal with the acronym "ACE", The Affordable Clean Energy Rule.

Per the EPA release on June 19, the Affordable Clean Energy rule "establishes emissions guidelines for states to use when developing plans to limit carbon dioxide (CO2) at their coal-fired power plants".

Where the new plan focuses on what can be achieved at individual coal plants, the Clean Power Plan it is replacing aimed to drive broader changes in the US electric mix and threatened to spur a wave of coal plant closures.

Today the Environmental Protection Agency finalized its replacement of the CPP: the Affordable Clean Energy rule.

To upgrade the remaining two units to reduce carbon emissions by 30% to 47% would cost $1.2 to $1.4 billion the analysis concluded. "The Trump EPA is throwing away an opportunity to drive further, cost-effective reductions in pollution from our power sector that could prevent thousands of early deaths from unhealthy air and make strides toward addressing the climate crisis". By 2030 (the time the plan is set to be in place), the new rule will reduce carbon emissions by 11 million tons, compared to 870 million tons under the CPP.

An Associated Press analysis Tuesday of federal air data showed US progress on cleaning the air may be stagnating after decades of improvement.

Indeed, EPA envisions very little change in coal generation under its rule. "But we're confident this attack on our lungs and our planet won't survive in the courts".

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the state would fight the new rule as part of a multi-state coalition, and called ACE a "toothless substitute".

Back in 2015, President Obama launched his "Clean Power Plan" initiative that would have required individual states to meet specific standards and targets with respect to the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions.

"Utilities may respond to this rule by making hardware fixes or operational changes that. could mean some coal trousers will run longer", said Joe Goffman, executive director of the Environmental & Energy Law Program at Harvard and former EPA General Counsel, who worked on the Clean Power Plan.

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"It could foreclose a new administration from doing something more ambitious", Harvard University environmental law professor and Obama administration legal counsel Jody Freeman told The New York Times.

Bracewell LLP partner Jeff Holmstead, who led the EPA's air office under President George W. Bush, recommended pushing Congress to pass climate legislation. Details regarding the final rules have been submitted to the Federal Register, one of the last steps to making federal rules official in the US.

"You invest in updating an old coal plant, it makes it more economic" to run it more to pay off that investment.

The Trump administration is close to completing one of its biggest rollbacks of environmental rules.

At least one coal plan did end up shutting its doors after the implementation of the Clean Power Plan.

"The Trump administration's attempts to revive obsolete industries like coal have proven futile: since he has taken office, over 50 coal plants have closed, putting us over halfway to retiring the U.S. coal fleet", the group said.

The Texan contacted the American Conservation Coalition - anorganization dedicated to "changing the narrative on environmental discussions through the promotion of free-market and pro-business environmentalism in legislatures, college campuses, the political arena, and beyond". Critics of the plan argued that it would have significantly increased energy costs on Texans and all Americans.

Michelle Bloodworth, president and CEO of the pro-coal group America's Power, said about 40% of the nation's coal-fired plants have either retired or announced retirement.

Several states are already moving in that direction.

From the start of President Trump's administration, his Environmental Protection Agency has been working to overhaul the program.

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