Pelosi digs in against coal as Trump rolls back Obama emissions rules

Rosemary Collier
August 24, 2018

A USA senator from West Virginia Tuesday proclaimed the war on coal is over with the Trump administration proposing to replace the Obama-era Clean Power Plan.

The EPA's planwould replace President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan - the centerpiece of the previous administration's efforts to combat climate change - by giving states more leeway to ease emissions rules for aging power plants.

The Obama administration held up the Clean Power Plan as a way to cut down global greenhouse gas emissions and make the US a leader in the fight against climate change. That plan aimed to reduce the country's carbon dioxide emissions to 32% below 2005 levels by 2030, Bloomberg reports, but the regulation was put on hold by the Supreme Court in 2016. "I'm encouraged the EPA's newly proposed Affordable Clean Energy plan allows state input and clearly signals the War on Coal is over".

The EPA said its Affordable Clean Energy rule "empowers states, promotes energy independence and facilitates economic growth and job creation".

EPA will accept comments on the rule for 60 days.

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Wheeler says the agency's new plan gives states three years to come up with their own path to cut carbon emissions and prove they're making progress.

"States will have a lot more time to submit their plans".

Westar officials say, for now, they have enough capacity in their system and have no plans for adding additional generation, coal or otherwise, in the near future.

Acting EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler told reporters, "Today we are fulfilling the president's agenda".

The Clean Power Plan was challenged in court and never took effect.

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"Asthma is a complex disease - we don't know all the causes - but we do know air pollution exacerbates it, which is a fancy way of saying it makes the attacks worse", said Paul Billings, national senior vice president of advocacy for the American Lung Association.

Democratic state attorneys general and environmental groups are sure to sue the Trump administration over the proposal, on the grounds that it doesn't adequately address greenhouse gas emissions from burning coal. Critics say it is a blow to clean air.

In many states, the CPP's limits on emissions have already been met because the cost of generating power from natural gas and renewable energy like wind and solar is cheaper than coal. The CPP is a comprehensive regulation created to significantly reduce carbon emissions from fossil fuel power plants.

"We're not gonna have a coal power plant floating around", Pelosi said during a discussion about energy policy at the Public Policy Institute of California in San Francisco. First, it scraps the CPP's attempt to regulate emissions "beyond the fence line" - effectively statewide emissions - and focuses on GHG emissions from power plants themselves. The EPA called the Obama rules "overly prescriptive and burdensome".

"Replacing the Clean Power Plan with this irresponsible plan is a complete giveaway to large corporate polluters and fossil fuel special interests at the expense of American families".

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