By Jon Dougherty
(NationalSentinel) The Trump administration on Friday further rolled back an Obama-era climate rule that imposed strict emissions standards on coal-fired plants — standards that, if left in place, would have led to plant closures and higher electric bills for most consumers.
Called “The Affordable Clean Energy Plan,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler told Fox Business Network it would not lead to ‘dirtier air’ and poorer air quality as critics charge, but rather uphold the spirit of the Clean Air Act while enabling states to chart their own emissions path.
The plan will still “reduce carbon emissions by 34 to 35 percent from 2005 levels over the course of the regulation,” Wheeler said, adding that the rule will also “make energy plants more efficient” while still providing “a lifeline to the coal industry,” which was devastated under Obama and his climate rules.
“This is a promise President Trump made on the campaign trail, and it is a promise kept,” he added.
While the rule will allow for the construction of new coal-fired plants — coal, as a fuel, is cheap — it also puts in place various requirements for emissions and efficiency, via technologies, that those new plants must still meet.
“What the Obama administration’s regulation did was basically freeze all coal-fired technologies back in 2014,” Wheeler said. “[The Affordable Clean Energy Plan] will allow new technologies to be developed, and our technologies are exported to other countries all over the world.”
Both China and India are huge air polluters. Both countries are building new coal-fired plants by the scores, which is creating very poor air quality conditions in their major cities. New U.S. technology that makes coal-fired plants more efficient and less carbon-emitting would likely be exported there, Wheeler noted.
“What the Obama administration did was freeze any development of new clean coal technologies,” Wheeler continued. “We’re the ones, the United States, is the country that develops these new technologies.”
He said the new plan would create “new investments” in clean coal technologies.
Wheeler added that the U.S. receives more mercury deposits from Chinese power plant emissions than are created domestically.
Several states have already said they will sue the EPA over the new rules — despite the fact that they give states more power to decide their emissions standards than even the Obama rule, which was stayed by the Supreme Court.
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