The Trump administration has set out plans that will weaken environmental regulations in support of coal production in the US.
The new Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule, which will replace the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), proposes to allow coal-producing states to develop and set their own rules for carbon emissions rather than have a national standard.
Around 600 coal-fired units at 300 facilities could be covered by the proposed rule.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) analysis found coal-fired power plants can reduce CO2 emissions by making onsite efficiency upgrades and is proposing a list of technologies states would need to consider in establishing “standards of performance” for individual existing plants.
It estimates the ACE Rule could reduce CO2 emissions by up to 1.5% by 2030 from projected levels without the CPP – equivalent to taking 5.3 million cars off the road.
When states have fully implemented the proposals, the power sector’s overall emissions could decline between 33% and 34% compared with 2005 levels, it adds.
The EPA claims it could also result in $3.4 billion (£2.6bn) in net benefits for the US energy sector, including $400 million (£310m) every year in avoided compliance costs for fossil fuel energy plants.
EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler said: “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. 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.”
The proposals are subject to a 60-day comment period before being finalised.