The Trump administration has revealed the details of its Power Plant Plan - the legislation that will rollback the Clean Power Plan of the Obama administration. James Walker has taken a look at how the two compare
US President Donald Trump has revealed details of his new energy rule, dubbed the Power Plant Plan – a piece of legislation that will roll-back predecessor Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan.
Trump has long been eager to bin the eco-friendly plan set out by the Obama administration in the defence of the coal industry, despite the fact it was never enacted.
The Power Plant Plan – officially named the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule – is the Trump administration’s attempt to stall the decline of coal power while abiding by the Clean Air Act (CAA).
The CAA is a federal law that requires the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to protect the public from pollution when creating laws.
EPA acting administrator Andrew Wheeler said: “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.
“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.”
The public has 59 days left to comment on the Power Plant Plan before it is wrapped up by the EPA.
Compelo has taken a look at how the ACE Rule and the Clean Power Plan compare on pollution and energy industry benefits.
Power Plant Plan v Clean Power Plan: Giving coal power a lifeline
The Trump plan does not set a nationwide regulation on coal power plants but instead allows states to decide what action they do or do not take action against the pollutant industry.
By contrast, the Clean Power Plan handed emission restrictions on the coal power industry and eco-friendly energy targets down to state authorities.
The hands-off nature of the Power Plant Plan is expected to give ailing coal power stations a lifeline in states where the industry fuels employment.
Environmental campaigners are less than happy with the Trump administration’s proposal on coal emissions.
Samantha Williams, Midwest director of the Climate and Clean Energy Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said: “Trump’s move today to take the nation backward makes clear the increasing importance of state and local work to combat climate change and protect public health.
“Now more than ever, we need governors and mayors to redouble their efforts to pick up the slack.
“We are hopeful that the Midwest will continue pushing the envelope and accelerating the shift to a clean energy economy.”
Power Plant Plan v Clean Power Plan: Trump rule less likely to face court battles
The Clean Power Plan regulations drawn up by the Obama administration never made it out of court.
Federal dictats handed down to states – however merited they may be – are often open to legal challenge under constitutional rules that give states autonomy from the White House.
The Supreme Court suspended the Clean Power Plan in 2016 – meaning it never came into effect.
A total of 27 states challenged the Obama plan – but the Power Plant Plan is less likely to face a similar struggle.
By giving states a say on emission targets, clean energy adoption and coal power plant pollution rules, it will be harder for local authorities to sue against the ACE Rule.
This is not to say that the Power Plant Plan will face no legal opposition.
US environmental groups will probably be looking at ways to block the rule by pointing to existing federal laws on the environment.
Power Plant Plan v Clean Power Plan: EPA expects 1,400 more deaths under Trump rule
It will come as no surprise that the Power Plant Plan will do less to reduce emissions than the Clean Power Plan.
But it is estimated that the ACE Rule will lead to 1,400 deaths in America per year as a result of harsher air pollution.
Ms Williams said: “By the Trump administration’s own admission, the Affordable Clean Energy Rule will increase air pollution and premature deaths.”
The EPA’s own analysis of the Power Plant Plan’s predicted impacts said between 470 and 1,400 deaths could result from it every year.
It also found that CO2 emissions could go down by as little as 0.7% from 2005 levels by 2030, while coal power had the potential to rise by 13.1%.
The Clean Power Plan was predicted to reduce emissions by almost a third and lead to coal plant closures by the same year.
It was also believed the eco-friendly Obama rule would cut climate-linked deaths by 3,600 a year and lower the number of heart attacks by 1,700.
Power Plant Plan v Clean Power Plan: Coal could still go up in smoke under lax rule
There is a political play behind the Power Plant Plan aimed at propping up coal power and keeping Trump supporters on-side in states like West Virginia.
The Clean Power Plan rolled back by Trump was designed to phase out pollutant coal power and replace it with power and jobs in the clean energy sector.
But it is also thought that the Power Plant Plan will not do a much better job of keeping the coal sector alive.
The Wall Street Journal reported that, rather than reversing the decline of coal consumption, the ACE Rule will simply slow down its losses, according to the EPA’s own research on the policy.