Trump rolls back Obama-era guidelines on coal

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The coal industry argued that expensive upgrades have led to the shutting down of power plants.

EPA officials said they could give no firm projections for the health effects of their plan because that will depend on how states regulate power plants within their borders. In the scenario the E.P.A. has pegged as the most likely to occur, the health effects would be significant. Now, the EPA has proposed a new plan which drastically rolls back federal regulations, instead leaving it to individual states to decide how they want to regulate power plants in their jurisdiction.

President Donald Trump has been obsessed with protecting and expanding the use of coal, one of the dirtiest fuels and a huge contributor to global warming. Two-thirds of electricity comes from coal and natural gas. Over half of the nation's coal plants (270, to be precise) are slated to retire, with more on the way. Even where coal remains king, employment in the coal sector is declining, due to increased automation. Wheeler and EPA air pollution chief Bill Wehrum are both former lobbyists for coal-producing companies that benefit from the agency's new rule.

Matthew Chapman is a video game designer, science fiction author, and political reporter from Austin, TX.

"The ACE Rule would restore the rule of law and empower states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide modern, reliable, and affordable energy for all Americans", he said.

A technical analysis released by the EPA suggests that the new plan would decrease carbon dioxide emissions by no more than 2% compared to doing nothing. Downwind states, Howarth said in a statement, are particularly vulnerable to the choices of their upwind counterparts, who determine their air quality: Pollution levels in NY, for example, could be determined by decision made in Pennsylvania, or Ohio.

"The cost of failing to act is enormous - from increases in lung disease and heavy metal poisoning to the many health harms from climate change that doctors are already seeing among their patients", said Mona Sarfaty, director of the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health.

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Trump is expected to tout the proposal as a lifeline for coal at a West Virginia rally later on Tuesday (we'll probably also hear about CLEAN COAL!), but it's unlikely to save a dying, economically unfeasible industry. In fact, it is exactly what Trump and Wheeler's fossil fuel friends want, especially since they are losing money as the US economy continues to rapidly move away from fossil fuels and toward cleaner, cheaper competitors like solar and wind.

"The US is not on track to meet its commitments under the Paris Agreement, the best chance that we have for averting catastrophic climate change", said Houser, who served in the State Department under President Barack Obama.

Obama's Clean Power Plan, finalized in 2015, aimed to reduce the U.S.'s carbon dioxide emissions to 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

A worker in the coal industry handles coal at a coal prep plant on May 19, 2017 outside the city of Welch, West Virginia.

During the conference, Wehrum also suggested that the new rule would keep the US on track to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but the EPA's own documents also state that carbon dioxide emissions are expected to increase.

The implementation of those rules were halted by the Supreme Court in 2016, to give the courts time to consider the arguments over whether the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had exceeded its legal authority.

"We have abundant legal authority to deal with those other pollutants directly, and we have aggressive programs in place that directly target emissions of those pollutants". The plan is expected to address power plants individually rather than across the electric grid as the EPA proposed under Obama.

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