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EPA rolls back coal rule despite climate change warnings

The Trump administration will reverse an Obama-era coal emissions rule as part of its effort to loosen restr...

Posted: Dec 7, 2018 1:25 PM
Updated: Dec 7, 2018 1:25 PM

The Trump administration will reverse an Obama-era coal emissions rule as part of its effort to loosen restrictions on the coal industry, just days after a US government report warned that aggressive action is needed to curb greenhouse gases and ease the impact of global warming.

The reversal won't lead to the immediate construction of new coal-fired power plants, but it does send an immediate political signal that the Trump administration is intent on shoring up the coal industry and other energy interests.

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"We are rescinding unfair burdens on America's energy providers and leveling the playing field so that new energy technologies can be part of America's future," Andrew Wheeler, the acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and a former coal industry lobbyist, said Thursday.

The rule change would lift restrictions on coal emissions that effectively limited the construction of new plants.

Wheeler argued that the Obama administration was requiring power plants to use costly carbon capture and sequestration technology and that by reversing the rule, businesses would have a greater ability to innovate and invest.

"Their determination was disingenuous," Wheeler said. "They knew that the technology was not adequately demonstrated, which is what is required under the law."

Critics assailed the move. "Trump's proposal is an act of flailing, die-hard climate denial," said Clare Lakewood, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity who characterized the announcement as "backward-looking posturing."

Climate report

On the Friday after Thanksgiving, the Trump administration released a congressionally mandated Climate Assessment which warned the planet is getting warmer, human activity is contributing to that warming and that it is approaching a point of no return in terms of the damage to the climate.

Asked whether the EPA was ignoring its climate report, Wheeler said: "We're not ignoring the government report. We're still looking at the report itself."

"As far as what the findings were -- a lot of what the media has focused on, as I said last week, is the worst case scenario in the report," he added.

Also Thursday, the administration moved to roll back restrictions on oil and gas drilling on millions of acres of Western land placed under an Obama-era conservation plan to protect the greater sage grouse.

Goes against international efforts

The combined announcements come as the United Nations hosted a crucial meeting on climate change in Poland, where delegates are working to create an operational plan to turn the 2015 Paris Agreement into workable reality. The US decisions serve as another reminder of the Trump administration's determination to buck global consensus about climate change and the need to act on it.

Just a week ago, the US drew a red line under its determination to oppose international consensus. At the G20 in Argentina, the delegation insisted on adding a graph to the final communique that said the US "reiterates its decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, and affirms its strong commitment to economic growth and energy access and security, utilizing all energy sources and technologies, while protecting the environment."

The Obama administration rule required new coal plants to be equipped with technology that could capture and store carbon, creating a tight limit on emissions that made building new coal plants uneconomical. The Trump administration changes will allow the construction of new coal plants that use newer and more efficient boilers and related technology.

It's not likely that new coal plants will sprout up across the country in the wake of the change as demand for coal drops in the face of cheaper natural gas and sources of renewable energy.

US coal consumption in 2018 is expected to be the lowest since 1979 and fall further still in 2019, as a near-record number of coal plants closed this year, according to an Energy Information Administration report Tuesday.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 708779

Reported Deaths: 13226
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion966191721
Lake51761946
Allen39224672
Hamilton34549405
St. Joseph34157541
Elkhart27356432
Vanderburgh22081394
Tippecanoe21853212
Porter17935299
Johnson17544374
Hendricks16822310
Clark12697190
Madison12353337
Vigo12219244
Monroe11469166
LaPorte11162204
Delaware10366184
Howard9664211
Kosciusko9134114
Hancock7990139
Bartholomew7893155
Warrick7691155
Floyd7563176
Wayne6906198
Grant6844171
Boone6556100
Morgan6405138
Dubois6085117
Marshall5786108
Dearborn570376
Cass5685102
Henry5579101
Noble542683
Jackson493569
Shelby479495
Lawrence4342118
Gibson429089
Harrison428570
Clinton419753
Montgomery418086
DeKalb411184
Whitley380239
Huntington379880
Miami372865
Knox366689
Steuben365757
Putnam353160
Jasper350946
Wabash347878
Adams338052
Ripley334668
Jefferson313180
White308454
Daviess289499
Wells286481
Decatur279092
Fayette277262
Greene270785
Posey268833
Scott261153
LaGrange253670
Clay253544
Randolph235680
Washington231031
Spencer228031
Jennings225047
Fountain208845
Sullivan207942
Starke204752
Owen192356
Fulton192039
Jay186429
Carroll185920
Perry180736
Orange177853
Rush170724
Vermillion166043
Franklin165635
Tipton161043
Parke144616
Blackford133831
Pike130334
Pulaski113845
Newton104234
Brown100140
Crawford97614
Benton97113
Martin82915
Warren79715
Switzerland7698
Union69910
Ohio55811
Unassigned0408

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1054807

Reported Deaths: 18991
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1225191356
Cuyahoga1074592069
Hamilton783261168
Montgomery50176996
Summit45557909
Lucas40298765
Butler37768570
Stark31513895
Lorain24246473
Warren23910293
Mahoning20946583
Lake20067362
Clermont19459229
Delaware18085130
Licking16149207
Fairfield15757197
Trumbull15627460
Medina14922259
Greene14706236
Clark13660293
Wood12806185
Portage12431196
Allen11352229
Richland11067198
Miami10548214
Muskingum8717127
Wayne8594209
Columbiana8569226
Pickaway8439121
Marion8390135
Tuscarawas8387240
Erie7600154
Hancock6730123
Ross6707146
Geauga6553146
Ashtabula6530165
Scioto6295101
Belmont5634158
Union558447
Lawrence5470102
Jefferson5343147
Huron5314114
Darke5273121
Sandusky5189120
Seneca5139120
Washington5087107
Athens503856
Auglaize476284
Mercer471984
Shelby456590
Knox4397108
Madison423959
Putnam421799
Ashland413488
Fulton410567
Defiance404296
Crawford3883101
Brown386955
Logan374476
Preble371098
Clinton362160
Ottawa357978
Highland347459
Williams328674
Champaign321557
Jackson308551
Guernsey307549
Perry290549
Fayette278048
Morrow275939
Hardin264764
Henry264366
Coshocton259857
Holmes253499
Van Wert239262
Pike233831
Gallia233446
Adams229152
Wyandot227553
Hocking209759
Carroll189447
Paulding168838
Meigs141738
Noble132937
Monroe128941
Morgan106823
Harrison105636
Vinton81614
Unassigned02
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