Trump's clean energy plan lowers costs for all Americans: EPA's Andrew Wheeler


On Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a new rule regulating coal-fired power plants, which - according to the government's own figures - could cause thousands of premature deaths per year.

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) has come out against ACE. EPA air chief William Wehrum, a former coal industry lawyer, did acknowledge the plan's "collateral effects" on health Tuesday but said the EPA has "abundant legal authority to deal with those other pollutants directly".

"A coal plant that operates more efficiently may be called upon to run more hours, increasing the total amount of Carbon dioxide emitted overall", Lissa Lynch, an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement.

The lure of cheaper and cleaner power sources such as natural gas and renewables set electric utilities on a serendipitous path several years ago to slash carbon dioxide emissions while also responding to demands from institutional investors, shareholders and customers.

But that still might not be enough to dramatically alter the landscape for US coal, which is losing USA customers as utilities increasingly turn to natural gas and renewable power to generate electricity.

In that scenario, the Trump E.P.A. predicts its plan will see between 470 and 1,400 premature deaths annually by 2030 because of increased rates of microscopic airborne particulates known as PM 2.5, which are risky because of their link to heart and lung disease as well as their ability to trigger chronic problems like asthma and bronchitis.

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But officials from the EPA say the proposal would provide companies with an incentive to update their operations and that the agency has other policies that reduce traditional pollutants.

"The entire Obama administration plan was centered around doing away with coal", Wheeler told the Journal, referencing the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan.

"What we're dealing with here are greenhouse gases", Wehrum said. "The law could not be more clear: It requires EPA to adopt the 'best system of emissions reduction, ' but the EPA has instead opted for the 'lamest system of emissions reduction"'.

By contrast, the Obama rule would have cut 67 million metric tons compared to business as usual over the same time frame. Although it is unlikely to dramatically alter the USA power mix - or give a big boost to domestic coal demand, which has flagged amid competition from cheap natural gas and renewables - industry advocates hailed the effort as curbing federal government overreach and leveling the playing field. "The plants we have remaining are much more efficient". The AP obtained a copy of the summary, which asserts that the Obama-era plan exceeds the EPA's authority under the Clean Air Act. He did not mention the health costs.

"Today's proposal provides the states and regulated community the certainty they need to continue environmental progress while fulfilling President Trump's goal of energy dominance", Wheeler said. The Clean Power Plan never went into effect because of court battles.

An EPA statement calls the Obama plan "burdensome". In less than two years in office, Trump has appointed officials who deny the science of global warming, sought to defund climate change programs and begun the process of pulling the USA out of the Paris Agreement on climate change. That entailed the "steady retirement of the company aging coal-fired plants", DTE said, including the shuttering of 11 coal units by the early 2020s (E&E News PM, May 16, 2017).