Trump emissions plan could dirty Minnesota's air, but energy transition continues

Trump administration's rewrite of Clean Power Plan will be a boon to the coal industry

I want crystal clean water and we've got it.

"My first impression of the plan is that it's not going to do a whole lot", said James Holtkamp, a lawyer and member of the Utah Manufacturers Association air quality committee. "But I'm getting rid of some of these ridiculous rules and regulations, which are killing our companies ... and our jobs".

The Administration's replacement proposal, the Affordable Clean Energy Rule, allows states to withdraw regulations to reduce emissions from power plants and is estimated to cut less than one-tenth of the emissions from the power sector than the Clean Power Plan was estimated to reduce. When Trump ran for president he promised to stop the Obama Administration's "war on coal" as he called it. It would give states more power to set their own standards and attempt to bolster the ailing coal industry.

"That's a test created to never be triggered", said John Walke, clean air director at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

But it's also possible Trump's new plan will lead to no changes in planned coal plant retirements.

In Kentucky, about one in 10 children and adults suffer from asthma, which is aggravated by air pollution.

"President Trump's Affordable Clean Energy is a strong step away from the Obama administration's heavy-handed attitude that Washington knows best", Hyde-Smith said.

The administration's own analysis also shows that the plan would result in 1,400 more premature deaths than the Clean Power Plan. While that environmental action did not move forward, the liberal leaning-Center for American Progress says this new direction is irresponsible. "What our proposed program would do is gives states flexibility to take those unique aspects of each of the power plants in their jurisdiction into consideration and then set standards that are tailored to the particular characteristics of the facility".

Bill Wehrum, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Air and Radiation told reporters during a press call, that the ACE rule aims to tip the regulatory balance back toward states when it comes to regulating emissions.

"An important part of what we're doing here is getting us back into our lane", Wehrum said.

When asked about environmental concerns that coal will make the environment less safe, and that more people could die as a result of less regulation, Avella acknowledged the concern was fair.

Tuesday's move opens a public-comment period on the proposal before any final approval by the president.

The plan was the centrepiece in an effort to lower emissions and help meet global climate change goals set out in the Paris agreement, which Trump has pledged to leave. The new plan will have a hard time working against these market forces, with even industry representatives telling the New York Times that "the fuel mix for providing electricity is changing, with increased investments in natural gas and renewables".

Tom Fanning, chief executive of Southern Co., said Tuesday the utility doesn't plan to upgrade its existing coal-fired units or build new ones.

The CPP set strict greenhouse gas emissions limits on companies in the power industry with the hopes of reducing USA emissions by approximately one third from 2005 levels by the year 2030.

Obama's energy plan aimed to usher in the strictest anti-pollution measures in history on power plants, but was put on hold in 2016 by the US Supreme Court. They're often more expensive than natural gas, solar, or wind energy.

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