Energy & Environment

EPA eyes rolling back another Obama coal rule

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to formally propose rolling back an Obama administration climate change rule for coal-fired power plants.

The rule at issue, written in 2015, would have put strict new limits on greenhouse gas emissions from coal plants.

Emissions from such plants would have to be at a similar level to what plants would achieve with carbon capture and storage (CCS), a technology that is not generally commercially used.

The Trump administration this week will propose to significantly weaken the rule while keeping some form of it in place, in part as an effort to make new coal plants easier to build, two people familiar with the plans said.

Axios was first to report the regulatory plan.

The rollback is not likely to spur many new coal-fired power plants. Coal has been in a multiyear decline, due not just to regulations, but also competition from natural gas and renewables.

It is the latest in a long series of regulatory repeals or rollbacks from President Trump intended to benefit the coal industry.

One of the biggest of such moves came earlier this year when the EPA proposed to replace the Clean Power Plan, which limited greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants, with a weaker alternative that would only reduce emissions by 0.7 percent to 1.5 percent by 2030 when compared with business as usual.

In the Trump plan due to be released this week, the EPA is expected to propose that new coal plants emit up to 1,900 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour produced, a level that can be met with modern technology like efficient boilers.

The Obama rule had set the limit at 1,400 pounds.

The most frequent criticism from industry and Republicans about the Obama rule was that CCS is not commercially available, a requirement for that type of regulation under the Clean Air Act.