New EPA rule weakens Obama-era plan to cut coal plant emissions

A new rule from the Trump administration undercuts Obama-era efforts to limit emissions from coal-fired power plants that contribute to climate change.

The Obama administration’s “Clean Power Plan,” which never went into effect because of a court challenge, would have required states to meet specific targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, with a goal of reducing emissions by 32% below 2005 levels by 2030. The Trump administration’s “Affordable Clean Energy Rule” is a much narrower plan, with no emissions targets, that focuses on making individual power plants more efficient. Critics say that that the focus on efficiency could actually lead to increased emissions at some plants, because they’ll be able to operate longer.

Gina McCarthy, former EPA administrator and now director of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Center for Health and the Global Environment (C-CHANGE), criticized the Trump administration for acknowledging that there’s a climate crisis but doing nothing to stop it.

“The Trump administration has made painfully clear that they are incapable of rising to the challenge and tackling this crisis,” she said in a June 19, 2019 Politico article. “They have shown a callous disregard for EPA’s mission, a pattern of climate science denial, and an inexcusable indifference to the consequences of climate change.”

McCarthy was also quoted in a June 18, 2019 Associated Press article that focused on EPA data showing that U.S. air quality is getting worse.

“Today it feels like the future of our kids and our country is at stake,” McCarthy told AP. “We do not have the cleanest air and we have not crossed the finish line when it comes to pollution.”

McCarthy also spoke out on a Trump administration plan to cut the number of government advisory committees by a third. “It’s just another extension of this administration’s attack on science, an attack on transparency, and an attack on anything that can get in the way of this administration doing what it wants to do without need for experts to intervene in any way,” she said in a June 18, 2019 Inside Climate News article.

Read the Politico article: Trump administration rolls out coal-friendly climate rule

Read the AP article: US air quality is slipping after years of improvement

Read the Inside Climate News article: Trump Takes Ax to Science and Other Advisory Committees, Sparking Backlash