The Trump administration is expected on Thursday to reduce an Obama-era rule that demands new coal plants to arrest their carbon emissions, a step that could break open the door in coming years for new plants run by the fossil fuel.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will make an “energy policy announcement” at 1:30 p.m. EST (1830 GMT) on Thursday. Andrew Wheeler, EPA’s acting administrator, will speak including Harry Alford, president of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, a long-time opponent of ex-President Barack Obama’s limits on carbon emissions.
According to a New York Times report quoting unnamed sources, the EPA is expected to suggest allowing new coal plants to release up to 1,900 pounds (862 kg) of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour of electricity
The Trump proposal, which is certain to be opposed by lawsuits from environmental groups, would exchange an Obama-era standard permitting only 1,400 pounds of carbon per megawatt-hour. That Obama rule would have forced new plants to install carbon capture equipment that is not commercially available yet.
No company are ready to build a new U.S. coal plant as a result of competition from so much and less-expensive natural gas. That could change as President Donald Trump reduces rules meant to control emissions linked to global warming.
“I’m not giving up on building a new generation of coal-fired power plants in this country,” said Myron Ebell, who led Trump’s EPA transition team last year. Ebell said Trump’s policies could permit new coal plants to be build in the next five, 10 or 15 years.
The administration explains coal plants can be used to burn coal way more effectively. But high costs have made them wasteful. The regulatory reduction comes ahead of the annual U.N. climate talks in Poland next week, where White House officials plan a panel on coal technology.
It was uncertain whether the proposal can endure lawsuits. Jay Duffy, a legal associate at Clean Air Task Force, said the weaker carbon emissions level would not please federal clean air law requirements for the best obtainable emissions technology.
While the carbon capture equipment the Obama rule would have needed is technologically attainable, it is expensive.
But Duffy noted Obama’s rule would reduce costs.
Duffy said “If Trump is really interested in supporting coal miners, what he should be looking at is supporting and advancing carbon capture, “That’s the only way coal survives,” in a future where rules on carbon constraints are likely, he said.