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Trump Administration Proposes Changes to Coal Regulations


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a new rule entitled the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule.  ACE establishes emission guidelines for states to use when developing plans to limit GHGs at their power plants. The ACE Rule replaced the prior administration’s Clean Power Plan (CPP). 

The proposal will work to reduce GHG emissions through four main actions:

1. ACE defines the “best system of emission reduction” (BSER) for existing power plants as on-site, heat-rate efficiency improvements;

2. ACE provides states with a list of “candidate technologies” that can be used to establish standards of performance and be incorporated into their state plans;

3. ACE updates the New Source Review (NSR) permitting program to further encourage efficiency improvements at existing power plants; and

4. ACE aligns regulations under CAA section 111(d) to give states adequate time and flexibility to develop their state plans.

EPA’s regulatory impact analysis (RIA) for this proposal includes a variety of scenarios. These scenarios are illustrative because the statute gives states the flexibility needed to consider unit-specific factors – including a particular unit’s remaining useful life – when it comes to standards of performance. Key findings include the following:

• EPA projects that replacing the CPP with the proposal could provide $400 million in annual net benefits.

• The ACE Rule would reduce the compliance burden by up to $400 million per year when compared to CPP.

• All four scenarios find that the proposal will reduce CO2 emissions from their current level.

• EPA estimates that the ACE Rule could reduce 2030 CO2 emissions by up to 1.5% from projected levels without the CPP –  the equivalent of taking 5.3 million cars off the road. Further, these illustrative scenarios suggest that when states have fully implemented the proposal, U.S. power sector CO2 emissions could be 33% to 34% below 2005 levels, higher than the projected CO2 emissions reductions from the CPP. 

EPA will take comment on the proposal for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register and will hold a public hearing.

Federal Register notice and a fact sheet

EPA says the rule could cut cut electricity prices by 0.2% to 0.5% around 2025.  The EPA's own analysis of the Trump administration proposal also estimated that it will lead to an increase in pollution-related illnesses, like asthma, and a rise in premature deaths.

The move is just the latest effort by the Trump administration to revive an ailing coal industry and strip climate change-fighting regulations established by the Obama administration. He previously announced plans to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accords, calling it an unfair deal for Americans. (CNN, 8/21/2018, EPA)


Norris McDonaldComment