NC dam breach could put coal ash into river
Democrats decry Trump's plan to replace Obama's clean power regulations
Democrats on Tuesday lashed out against the Trump administration's proposed alternative to Obama-era coal power regulations, saying the replacement plan won't safeguard human health.
The proposal - introduced Tuesday and known as the Affordable Clean Energy rule - would give more power to states when it comes to determining regulations and compliance for coal plants.
The plan would replace the 2015 Clean Power Plan (CPP) regulations, which imposed strict rules for coal-fired power plants.
Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill criticized the Trump administration's approach, saying it will lead to increased air pollution.
"If I were grading the Trump Administration's proposal to replace the Clean Power Plan, I would give it an 'F,'" said Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) in a statement.
"This egregious climate denial plan fails to protect the American people from the serious risks of climate change, fails to produce the same health and energy saving benefits that were achieved under the Clean Power Plan, and could send clean energy jobs to China," said Carper, the ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (N.J.), the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, called the new rule a clear decision to choose "polluters' profits over public health."
"The Trump Dirty Power Scam will not lower electric bills, create jobs, or revive the coal industry, but will instead stifle innovation in clean energy, harm human health, and push the planet toward further dangerous warming," Pallone said in a statement.
The Environmental protection Agency's (EPA) own analysis of the plan found that carbon emissions would increase if the proposal is implemented.
"As compared to the standards of performance that it replaces ... implementing the proposed rule is expected to increase emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and increase the level of emissions of certain pollutants in the atmosphere that adversely affect human health," the analysis says.
Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) called the proposal a "betrayal."
"President Trump and Acting EPA head Andrew Wheeler teamed up with their friends in the fossil fuel industry to release a plan that would open the floodgates to more carbon pollution across the country," he said in a statement. "The Administration's proposal is a betrayal of the public trust that fails to uphold the EPA's legal obligation under the Clean Air Act to protect Americans from pollution.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D), who has speerheaded a number of court battles against the Trump administration's environmental regulation rollbacks, called the new rule a refusal to manage carbon pollution.
"Every part of America and the world is going through traumatic changes in climate activity, with devastating consequences in too many cases," he said in a statement. "Meanwhile, President Trump cavalierly refuses to effectively manage pollution from fossil fuel-burning power plants. Our families deserve clean air to breathe."
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has put $4.5 million behind the fight to keep the U.S. committed to cutting carbon emissions despite Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris Climate agreement, said the market will continue to favor cleaner energy despite the administration's efforts to prop up coal.
"Emissions continue to shrink because Americans are demanding cleaner air and cheaper, cleaner energy -- and cities, states and businesses are delivering," he said in a statement. "Wind, solar and other clean energy sources are beating coal in the marketplace, which is benefiting both public health and the economy. That will continue to happen even if the EPA keeps spitting in the wind."
Republicans, however, largely support the administration's CPP replacement, pointing primarily to its proposed cost savings.
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), a senior member on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said he was excited about the rule because it would give states more control.
"The greatest benefit is it's going to be under the jurisdiction of the state, it's going to be different from state to state," he said. "One size does not fit all in this case because the one size they were hoping for was to shut down coal plants, and this does not shut down coal plants."
Other GOP lawmakers were equally supportive of the administration, likening the rule to giving coal plants a new lease on life.
"A very good day for Kentucky. I applaud @realDonaldTrump for continuing to roll back and working to end the Obama war on coal," Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) tweeted.
In another tweet, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) issued a statement that said: "The Obama administration's plan would have amounted to a huge energy tax that would have raised power bills for Arkansans and dealt a blow to manufacturers ... This new rule will go a long way toward rebuilding trust between the EPA and rural America."