EPA plans to roll back emissions standards on power plants

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The Trump administration signaled Monday it is intent on removing some Obama-era environmental rules by signing a proposal that would soften regulations on coal-burning power plants.

Despite the departure of Trump's EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, a notorious anti-environmental crusader who resigned in July amid repeated accusations of graft and public corruption, there is no indication the agency will show any renewed dedication to public health.

The attorneys general of Virginia and NY quickly criticized the EPA announcement and said they would sue to block the rule if it becomes law.

The effort to re-write the plan is the latest move by the EPA under President Donald Trump, a Republican, to roll back environmental protections put in place by Obama, Trump's Democratic predecessor.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which crafted the clean power plan, is now seeking to undo much of its previous work with a Trump administration alternative, called the affordable clean energy rule.

The transforming energy market - cheap, abundant natural gas is displacing more carbon-heavy coal - is helping keep a lid on emissions, but the new Trump administration plan does not provide any meaningful cuts and could even make the situation worse by propping up old coal plants. The EPA acknowledges that the proposed plan is expected to "increase emissions of carbon dioxide" and "increase the level of emissions of certain pollutants in the atmosphere that adversely affect human health", as compared to the projections for Obama's plan. As it stands, Obama's Clean Power Plan never went into effect; amid legal challenges from opponents who said it overstepped the EPA's authority under federal law, the U.S. Supreme Court put the initiative on hold in February 2016.

An EPA statement calls the Obama plan "burdensome".

The Natural Resources Defense Council called the replacement proposal Trump's "Dirty Power Plan".

A summary of the plan and people familiar with it tell The Associated Press that the administration also will let states relax pollution rules for power plants that need upgrades. In total, the Clean Power Plan aimed to reduce emissions from the power sector by 32% by 2030.

'They are continuing to play to their base and following industry's lead, ' Gina McCarthy, EPA administrator when the Obama plan was developed, said of the Trump administration and its new acting administrator, Andrew Wheeler, a former coal industry lobbyist.

Of the Obama Administration's many power grabs, none was more audacious than its bid to regulate coal-fired electric power out of business.

"We are getting us back in our lane", said Bill Wehrum, the EPA's clean air chief. "The law could not be more clear: It requires EPA to adopt the 'best system of emissions reduction, ' but the EPA has instead opted for the 'lamest system of emissions reduction"'. When the president asked him to become acting EPA administrator, Wheeler said the goal has always been to fight for clean air and water while protecting U.S.jobs as Acting EPA Administrator.

Trump's proposal for modest efficiency improvements at power plants falls far short of what's needed to combat climate change, environmentalists said. "The Clean Power Plan would have resulted in stranded assets and stranded debt, significantly increasing electricity costs for many consumers", Matheson said by email.

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