At a rally in West Virginia on Tuesday, President Trump alluded to the EPA’s new plan to roll back environmental regulations in an effort to fulfill a campaign promise to boost the coal industry. Trump said, “We are putting our great coal miners back to work.” He added, “We love clean, beautiful West Virginia coal.”
The new proposal, called the Affordable Clean Energy Rule, would roll back former President Barack Obama’s efforts to combat climate change. Harvard University researchers estimated that the repeal of Obama’s Clean Power Plan could lead to 36,000 deaths over a decade, as a result of poor air quality.
Obama’s Clean Power Plan, finalized in 2015, aimed to reduce the U.S.’s carbon dioxide emissions to 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. But it never took effect, because the Supreme Court halted it in 2016 after energy-producing states sued the EPA saying that it had exceeded its legal reach.
The coal industry argued that expensive upgrades have led to the shutting down of power plants. Trump’s new EPA plan leaves it up to the states to set their own emissions standards for coal-fueled power plants.
Andrew Wheeler, the EPA’s acting administrator, said in a statement, “The ACE Rule would restore the rule of law and empower states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide modern, reliable, and affordable energy for all Americans.”
The EPA says the new rule could reduce emissions by up to 34 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, more than Obama’s Clean Power Plan.
But the Washington Post reports that compared with Obama’s plan, the new rule would allow plants to release 12 times the amount of carbon dioxide over the next decade.
The EPA’s new proposal is open for public comment, and a final rule is expected later this year.