EPA Announces Its Replacement of Obama-Era Power Plant Rules

The Trump administration has announced a new rule for power plants that gives states more control over setting limits on greenhouse gas emissions and requires only modest efficiency upgrades at facilities. The rule, which is expected to come into effect in the next 30 days, fulfills a campaign pledge by President Donald Trump to roll back the Obama-era Clean Power Plan.

“Americans want reliable energy that they can afford,” Environmental Protect Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler told a crowd of coal state lawmakers and coal miners on Wednesday. There’s no denying “the fact that fossil fuels will continue to be an important part of the mix,” he said, noting that the new plan will “level the playing field” and help to develop “cleaner coal” technologies.

The measure, known as the Affordable Clean Energy rule, orders states to reduce emissions, but does not say by how much. Instead, it allows states to set their own targets for reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. It also provides a list of six EPA-approved technologies for improving energy efficiency at coal-fired power plants, including duct leakage control and boiler feed pumps, Reuters reported. The list does not, however, include carbon capture and storage technologies because “the agency found it was not cost effective,” according to ABC News.

Environmental organizations immediately slammed the new rule, arguing it would do little to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. power plants. “It is dangerously irresponsible and completely at odds with the urgent need to address climate change, not to mention the EPA’s mission to protect public health,” Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said in a statement.

And several green groups have already vowed to fight it in court, which legal experts say could tie up its implementation for several years, potentially going all the way to the Supreme Court.

“We’ll soon file a lawsuit that details the many ways Trump’s approach ignores the public’s demand for climate action, violates the Clean Air Act, and cooks the books on the science behind climate change, air pollution, and the true costs and benefits of addressing both,” Natural Resources Defense Council President Rhea Suh wrote in a blog post published shortly after Wheeler’s announcement. “Trump’s attempt to derail the Clean Power Plan fits the singular theme of his climate policy: Protect polluters and leave our kids to pay the price.”