WASHINGTON – Environmentalists call the Trump administration’s plan to relax pollution rules for coal-fired power plants a “dirty power scam” that would stall efforts to slow global warming.
The Environmental Protection Agency plan proposed Tuesday replaces President Barack Obama’s signature climate-change policy, the Clean Power Plan. That plan shifted the power sector away from coal and toward renewable energy to cut carbon emissions from power plants by about one-third by 2030.
The Trump administration has said its new alternative would lower energy costs for families and businesses. But Joanne Spalding, chief climate counsel and deputy legal director for the Sierra Club, said she sees it as more likely to increase profits for the coal industry.
“This proposal, if it were finalized, wipes out all the gains that would be made by the Clean Power Plan in an effort to essentially resuscitate a dying coal industry,” she said.
The proposal, called the Affordable Clean Energy rule, would give states authority to make their own plans for regulating emissions from coal plants. There’s a 60-day public comment period before it can be adopted.
Virginia is part of a coalition of states led by New York that already is planning to sue the Trump administration over the new rule if it is implemented. Spalding said a number of environmental groups plan to do the same.
“Its own analysis shows that this is horrible for our country, and yet this is what they are proposing,” she said. “It’s clear that this administration cares only about its allies in the coal industry and not about the people, and not about the planet.”
The administration acknowledged that greenhouse-gas emissions “that adversely affect human health” would increase by about 3 percent under its proposal, compared with the Clean Power Plan. That means thousands of additional asthma attacks and hundreds more heart attacks, as well as five times the number of premature deaths.