Published: Fri, August 24, 2018
Science | By Dan Gutierrez

EPA plans to roll back emissions standards on power plants

EPA plans to roll back emissions standards on power plants

Health advocacy groups blasted the Environmental Protection Agency's plan to roll back Obama-era limits on coal-fired power plant emissions, with one group arguing the changes could result in more than 1,000 avoidable deaths a year in the US while doing nothing to address climate change.

The agency projects that scrapping the Clean Power Plan entirely would increase the number of premature deaths in 2030 by no more than 1,740.

The CPP, which Obama's EPA finalized in 2015, sought to reduce emissions from power plants to 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Hours after the head of the EPA unveiled a more industry-friendly version of power plant regulations, President Trump used a rally in West Virginia to claim that his policies have revitalized the coal industry.

The Obama administration's Clean Power Plan has been put on hold since 2016 after pro-coal states and industry challenged it in the courts.

Rule, which replaces Obama-era attempts to limit air pollution, provides suggestions for efficiency improvements, leaving the actual regulations up to the state.

"Asthma is a complex disease - we don't know all the causes - but we do know air pollution exacerbates it, which is a fancy way of saying it makes the attacks worse", said Paul Billings, national senior vice president of advocacy for the American Lung Association.

The new rule could reduce the emissions advantages of electric cars by allowing more "dirty" power plants to provide the energy that electric-car drivers use to recharge. "The Trump administration's proposal, by contrast, will give our state's authorities the flexibility they need to make the right decisions for Arkansas".

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Avella said the industry has already cut emissions.

Bill Sherman, the state attorney general's counsel for environmental protection, said Washington would likely join other states in a lawsuit after the rule allowing for more coal burning is final. That rule aimed to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants in an effort to stem the effects of climate change.

The Environmental Protection Agency's new rule would amend the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, making it easier for old coal power plants to stay open. This move is another rollback of the Obama administration's major environmental initiatives and could prevent future administrations from reimplementing the rule, CNN reports.

President Donald Trump said in a statement that the Clean Power Plan was intrusive and killed jobs.

On Tuesday, Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson said he was pleased with the Trump plan, which he said would "turn back the burdensome and unlawful regulations set out in the Clean Power Plan".

Scott Brooks, a spokesperson for the TVA, said the utility is confident in its abilities to meet any new requirements the EPA might recommend.

Goffman served as the EPA's associate assistant administrator for climate and senior counsel in the Office of Air and Radiation from 2009-2017.

One of the key differences between the Trump rule and the Obama one is the lack of pollution goals.

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