Some states’ emissions would be higher under Trump climate rule, study finds

Some states’ emissions would be higher under Trump climate rule, study finds
© Greg Nash

Eighteen states and Washington, D.C., would see increased carbon dioxide emissions from power plants under the Trump administration’s proposed climate change rule for power plants, a new study predicted.

The increases — all when compared to a future with no climate policies — would be because of a “rebound effect” from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rule, in which power plants would become more efficient and cheaper to operate.

The study, published Monday in Environmental Research Letters, predicts that the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule proposed last year would decrease carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector on a national scale compared to business as usual, but only “modestly.”

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The total increase in carbon dioxide emissions nationally would be 8.5 million tons in 2030, the researchers found. The state with the biggest increase would be Maryland, with 8.7 percent growth.

Other emissions would increase in certain states as well, the study found. Sulfur dioxide would grow in 19 states, and 20 states would see higher nitrogen oxides emissions.

“The EPA’'s proposed ACE rule does little to control carbon dioxide emissions from electric utilities nationally, and could lead to increased emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides in some states,” Charles Driscoll, a Syracuse University professor of civil and environmental engineering and one of the study’s co-authors, said in a statement.

“At a time when many scientists are pointing to the need to accelerate greenhouse gas reductions, ACE would do little to mitigate climate change or the adverse health effects of fossil fuel emissions,” he said.

“The key takeaway is that ACE is a free pass for carbon emissions. The agency’s proposal could cause some coal plants to run longer, generating more pollution that drives climate change and harms human health,” said Kathleen Lambert, senior advisor at the Center for Climate, Health and the Global Environment in Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and another author.

The study came days after a Rhodium Group analysis found that carbon dioxide emissions in the United States likely increased 3.4 percent last year, a contrast from the recent annual increases.

In response to the study, the EPA defended its proposal, and argued that it would be more effective than the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan, since that never took effect.

"CPP did not result in any reduction in CO2 because it was legally problematic and stayed by the US Supreme Court," EPA spokesman John Konkus said in a statement.

"ACE on the other hand would continue to reduce emissions across the nation. In fact, once ACE is fully implemented GHG emissions would be reduced by 34 percent compared to 2005 levels," he continued, referring to the total predicted emissions reduction — almost all of which EPA officials predicted would happen even without the new regulation.