States blast Trump administration coal plan, mull lawsuits


Around 600 coal-fired units at 300 facilities could be covered by the proposed rule.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed new rules that would give states broad discretion in how and to what degree they regulate coal power plants, rather than be subject to federal guidelines. By 2030, carbon dioxide levels would be between 0.7% 1.5% lower than they would have without any regulation in place, according to an EPA analysis.

The Trump administration's Affordable Clean Energy Rule (ACE) would replace former president Barack Obama's 2015 Clean Power Plan, which the EPA described as "overly prescriptive and burdensome" for states and the economy. Officials pointed to the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court had stayed the implementation of the Clean Power Plan in response to a lawsuit arguing that the EPA had over extended itself. He said the coal industry is working on technology to capture carbon dioxide, a main driver of climate change, but it's not yet commercially viable.

"There are going to be more jobs in the energy sector, not only in the coal field and coal mines, but also in the related industries", he said.

Despite the departure of Trump's EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, a notorious anti-environmental crusader who resigned in July amid repeated accusations of graft and public corruption, there is no indication the agency will show any renewed dedication to public health. The VanEck Coal Vectors ETF (KOL) is up 7% in the past year even as USA coal production and exports have continued to fall under President Trump.

Trump has vowed to end what Republicans call a "war on coal" waged by Obama. While that environmental action did not move forward, the liberal leaning-Center for American Progress says this new direction is irresponsible.

West Virginia University law professor James Van Nostrand concurred, telling the Gazette-Mail, "Killing the Clean Power Plan will not bring coal back, because the Clean Power Plan did not kill coal".

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Scientists say that without extensive study they can not directly link a single weather event to climate change, but climate change is responsible for more intense and more frequent extreme events such as storms, droughts, floods and wildfires. We've seen how climate change is impacting Lake Erie, with algae blooms causing a water crisis for the communities that depend on it.

"The EPA's new rule guts the clean power plan, the latest - and most damaging - chapter in this administration's campaign to surrender the fight against climate change", Udall said.

Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the Trump administration's plan would likely increase greenhouse gas emissions while doing nothing to change the long-term shift away from coal.

"And it really is a moral issue if you believe as I do that this is God's creation [and] we have to be good stewards of it", Pelosi said.

"All it does is to delay the closure or conversion of some existing coal plants", Michael Gerrard, a professor of environmental law and energy regulation at Columbia Law School, told the Gazette-Mail.

Obama's EPA projected that its plan would prevent 90,000 asthma attacks, 1,700 heart attacks and 3,600 premature deaths per year and reduce health care expenditures somewhere between $14 billion and $34 billion.