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Trump Power Plant Plan Will Significantly Increase CO2 Pollution

The Trump administration is expected on Tuesday to propose a major rollback of the Clean Power Plan, President Obama's signature climate policy.

The replacement will relax rules for coal-fired plants and will very likely increase air pollution and planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions.


The new plan, as the Washington Post reported, would allow states to set their own coal emission standards or even opt-out altogether, and provides companies incentives to ensure coal plants operate longer. It's a clear contrast to the Obama plan, which was aimed at phasing out coal and transitioning to cleaner power sources to avoid dangerous climate change.

The Trump rule "is projected to release at least 12 times the amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere compared with the Obama rule over the next decade," the Post reported. To illustrate how different the plans are, by 2030, the Trump proposal would cut carbon dioxide emissions from 2005 levels by 0.7 to 1.5 percent, or the equivalent of taking 2.7 million to 5.3 million cars off the road. In contrast, Obama's initiative had a goal of slashing CO2 emissions around 19 percent in the same time frame, or the equivalent of taking 75 million cars off the road.

"These numbers tell the story, that they really remain committed not to do anything to address greenhouse gas emissions. They show not merely indifference to climate change, but really, opposition to doing anything about climate change," Jose Goffman, executive director of Harvard Law School's Environmental Law Program and an architect of the Obama-era policy, told the Post.

The New York Times reported Sunday that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) air office head, William L. Wehrum, was key in developing the power plant plan that would surely please his corporate clients. The former industry lawyer represented a host of coal, oil, gas and chemical companies, and was a George W. Bush-era EPA official.

"They basically found the most aggressive and knowledgeable fox and said, 'Here are the keys to the hen house,'" said Bruce Buckheit, an air pollution expert and the former EPA head of air pollution enforcement for Republican and Democratic administrations, to the Times.

Meanwhile, Michelle Bloodworth, president of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, which advocates on behalf of major U.S. coal producers, said the new rules would "provide the flexibility to states to develop emissions guidelines that recognize the important role that our nation's coal fleet plays," she told Financial Times.

The new measure, which President Trump will reportedly announce Tuesday during a visit to West Virginia, will be subject to a 60-day comment period.

At a New York fundraiser last week, Trump said that coal was an "indestructible" form of energy and once again criticized windmills, according to Newsweek. Saving the flagging coal industry and ending the so-called "war on coal" was a core component of his presidential campaign.

"Coal is indestructible. You can blow up a pipeline, you can blow up the windmills," Trump was heard saying in Utica.

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