President Trump’s latest attempt to “Make Coal Great Again” is his proposed replacement for the Obama-era Clean Power Plan (CPP).
He’s tried this route before, first with the FERC “resiliency” proposal that fell flat, and then by invoking a Truman-era National Defense gambit which is also a non-starter. This time he runs headlong into the powerful legal bulwark of the Clean Air Act’s mandate to protect human health and the environment. The CAA requires, and the Supreme Court has affirmed, that carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants must be reduced, triggered by EPA’s 2009 Endangerment Finding that carbon pollution puts human health and the environment at great risk.
EPA’s proposed replacement of the CPP would jeopardize the power generation market’s robust trend towards greater reliance on cleaner energy sources, and instead places a thumb on the scale in favor of old coal plants that would most likely be retired soon. Under the guise of “heat rate improvement,” coal plants under Trump’s Dirty Power Plan will run harder and longer. The result will actually be more pollution and unnecessary loss of life – by EPA’s own reckoning about 1,000 avoidable deaths per year, while doing nothing to stem climate change. According to the IPCC and IEA, for coal plants to participate in a decarbonized world, they must employ carbon capture and storage technology.
“With today’s Dirty Power Plan proposal, the Trump EPA once again proves that it cares more about extending the lives of old coal plants rather than saving the lives of the American people,” said Conrad Schneider, Advocacy Director of Clean Air Task Force.