Emissions could increase under proposed ‘clean energy’ rule

New carbon standards proposed by the Trump administration could increase greenhouse gas emissions at nearly a third of the coal-fired power plants in the U.S., and could be worse for climate and health than having no regulations at all, according to new research.

The proposed standards are projected to increase carbon emissions in 18 states and Washington D.C. and to increase sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions in as many as 20 states and Washington, D.C., according to the study, co-authored by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment (C-CHANGE), Resources for the Future, Syracuse University, and Boston University School of Public Health.

The Affordable Clean Energy Rule (ACE) was proposed in August 2018 by the Environmental Protection Agency to replace the Obama-era Clean Power Plan (CPP), which was halted due to a legal challenge. Unlike CPP, ACE aims to cut carbon emissions through efficiency improvements at individual power plants instead of by setting federal emission limits in the power sector as a whole. Under the rule, states would have more leeway in setting their own emissions targets.

According to the study, emissions under ACE would “rebound” because coal plants that undergo efficiency improvements could run more often or for longer periods of time.

“This new plan essentially gives out a free pass for carbon pollution,” said study co-author Kathleen Lambert, senior advisor, C-CHANGE, in a January 16, 2019 article in The Guardian. “It’s a recipe for increased carbon emissions.”

Added co-author Jonathan Buonocore, research associate at C-CHANGE, “This will throw a wrench into the climate action plans for many states and cities.”

Read the Guardian article: Trump replacement for Obama climate plan worse than doing nothing – study

Read more about the study: Carbon Standards Examined

Learn more

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