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EPA moves to rescind Obama-era carbon limits on new coal plants

EPA moves to rescind Obama-era carbon limits on new coal plants

Today, the Trump administration's EPA has chosen to roll back a protection that requires new coal-fired power plants to capture the carbon dioxide they produce.

A report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration projected Tuesday that 2018 would see the lowest U.S. coal consumption since 1979, as well as the second-greatest number on record of coal-fired power plants shutting down.

Americans are consuming less coal in 2018 than at any time since Jimmy Carter's presidency, a federal report said Tuesday, as cheap natural gas and other rival sources of energy frustrate the Trump administration's pledges to revive the US coal industry.

The proposal eases an Obama-era rule that said new power plants had to include equipment to limit and capture carbon dioxide emissions - a regulation which industry groups said was burdensome and essentially blocked any new plants.

This is the latest regulatory rollback effort by President Trump in his attempt to revive America's coal industry that's declining in the face of cheap natural gas and tougher environmental rules from the last administration. The EPA hopes to finalize the rule after a public comment period.

The Trump administration took aim at two Obama-era environmental policies on December 6 to boost the oil and coal industries, proposing to open up a wildlife habitat to drilling and mining and remove hurdles to new coal-fired power plant construction.

Wheeler argued the proposal would not boost USA greenhouse emissions but would actually help drive them down by encouraging US investment in new energy technologies, which could then be exported.

"Still, this is an especially galling move, coming on the heels of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, an authoritative scientific report from 13 federal agencies, including the EPA, which documents the toll that climate impacts are already taking on our economy, infrastructure and health-a toll which will worsen as heat-trapping emissions rise".

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In response to the violence, President Trump said there was "blame on both sides". She also made reference to a text message that he sent a day before the rally.

The EPA has already moved to rescind Obama-era rules on carbon and mercury emissions from existing and modified generators, as well as regulations on coal ash, a toxic byproduct of burning coal.

The rollback on regulations comes ahead of an global conference next week in Poland, where USA officials plan to host a panel on fossil fuel technology. But he added "a lot of the media's focused on is the worst-case scenario".

"There are not going to be any new coal plants built in the USA, with or without this", said David Doniger, a senior climate and energy policy director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, noting that the low price of natural gas in recent years has made coal less economically viable. Still, it also lists plans for 77 retirements.

Asked about the harm that coal plant emission do people and the environment, Wheeler responded, "Having cheap electricity helps human health".

"We are not picking winners and losers here", he said. The oil and mining industries, however, have said the limits to development are overreaching.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, applauded the EPA's proposal, saying it would help families working in the coal industry in his state of Kentucky.

Jay Duffy, a lawyer with the Clean Air Task Force environmental nonprofit, called the level-playing field argument of the administration and its supporters "laughable".