Overnight Energy & Environment

Overnight Energy: Trump unveils plan gutting Obama power plant rule | Dems blast proposal | Greens vow to fight in court | Top EPA ethics lawyer leaves

Anna Moneymaker

EPA UNVEILS PLAN TO REPLACE OBAMA CLEAN POWER RULES: The Trump administration on Tuesday unveiled its plan to replace former President Obama’s Clean Power Plan regulations, which imposed new restrictions on coal-fired power plants that President Trump vowed to unravel.

The new plan will set off a huge battle with environmental groups, who argue it would exacerbate global warming and have promised to fight it in court.

The plan is being called the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule and was signed by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler on Monday.


Trump administration officials hailed the new rule as a much-needed upgrade to the heavily restrictive Obama policies that sought to significantly cut carbon emissions from coal-fired plants that didn’t meet modern pollution standards.

Coal is a top contributor to greenhouse gas emissions globally. Officials pointed to the Obama-era standards as proof of an administrative bias against coal, as the standards ultimately pushed to phase out the fossil fuel in favor of cleaner energy such as renewable energy and natural gas.

Trump is expected to tout the new rules during an appearance Tuesday night in West Virginia. The state is the second largest producer of coal in the country.

“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,” Wheeler said in a statement.

“Today’s proposal provides the states and regulated community the certainty they need to continue environmental progress while fulfilling President Trump’s goal of energy dominance.”

About 40 percent of U.S. coal-fired power plants have closed or have plans to shutter, according to the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.

Read more here.


Make sure to read the fine print: The EPA’s analysis released under the proposal also laid out possible effects on public health. In what the agency says is the most likely case, between 470 and 1,400 people annually are expected to fall ill or die by ozone-related causes and other factors by 2030.

“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 EPA said in its analysis.

Read more here.


Cheers from Republicans and industry: Republican lawmakers and coal industry groups praised the new plan. “The policy put forward by the previous administration was an illegal attempt to impose a political agenda on the country’s power system, to create what it called ‘a new energy economy,’” said Hal Quinn, president of the National Mining Association in a statement.

“Advancing the nation’s environmental protections does not have to come at the expense of American families, risking the reliability of our grid and sidestepping the law. The EPA and the Trump administration should be applauded for articulating a clear, legal proposal that considers the interests of all Americans.”


Democrats though slammed the changes… more on that below.


Happy Tuesday! Welcome to Overnight Energy, The Hill’s roundup of the latest energy and environment news. Washington is riveted by the verdict in the Paul Manafort trial and by Michael Cohen’s guilty plea, but it was a big day for energy news as well.

Please send tips and comments to Timothy Cama, tcama@thehill.com, and Miranda Green, mgreen@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @Timothy_Cama, @mirandacgreen, @thehill.


DEMS DECRY TRUMP POWER PLAN: 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.

A summary of the Democratic reaction:

-Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.): “If I were grading the Trump Administration’s proposal to replace the Clean Power Plan, I would give it an ‘F,'”

“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.”

-Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (N.J.): “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.”

-Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.): “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.”

“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): “Every part of America and the world is going through traumatic changes in climate activity, with devastating consequences in too many cases.”

“Meanwhile, President Trump cavalierly refuses to effectively manage pollution from fossil fuel-burning power plants. Our families deserve clean air to breathe.”

Read more here.


TOP EPA ETHICS LAWYER LEAVES FOR PRIVATE SECTOR: The top ethics official at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Tuesday that he is leaving the agency for a job at a law firm.

Kevin Minoli, the EPA’s designated ethics official who called for investigations into former Administrator Scott Pruitt, said in a video message that he plans to leave his post at the end of September, adding that he knows “there will be questions about why I’m making this choice and why I’m making it now.”

“I made this choice,” he said. “It’s a choice to pursue a new opportunity that will challenge me in ways that I haven’t been challenged before. It allows me to focus on the practice of law and in becoming the very best lawyer that I can be.”

Minoli did not specify in the video the name of the law firm where he’ll be working, but E&E News reported that he will be a partner at Alston & Bird LLP, a firm in Washington, D.C. The law firm did not immediately respond to a request from The Hill seeking confirmation.

EPA General Counsel Matt Leopold hailed Minoli’s work at the agency.

Read more here.



The Senate Energy and Natural Resources subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining will consider a number of bills, including legislation to designate and expand wilderness areas in the Olympic National Forest, a bill to amend the Federal Land Policy and Management Act to make national grasslands eligible for grazing leases and permits and a bill to designate certain federal land in the State of California as wilderness.



China defies US pressure as EU parts ways with Iranian oil, Reuters reports

Hurricane Lane presents rare direct threat to Hawaii, The Washington Post reports



Check out stories from Tuesday…

-Calif. governor: Trump’s plan to roll back clean power rules is a ‘declaration of war against America’

-Top EPA ethics lawyer to leave agency for private sector

Democrats decry Trump’s plan to replace Obama’s clean power regulations

-EPA says its new coal plan could ‘adversely affect human health’

-Arctic’s oldest and thickest sea ice breaks for first time

-Miami Hurricanes football team unveils ‘environmentally conscious’ uniforms

-EPA unveils new Trump plan gutting Obama power plant rules

Tags Coal Donald Trump emissions EPA Frank Pallone Jr. Paul Manafort power plant Scott Pruitt Tom Carper Xavier Becerra

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