Trump Admin Proposes Replacement For Obama-Era Climate Policy

The Trump administration on Tuesday proposed replacing the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan - the centerpiece of former President Obama's climate policy aimed at combatting climate change, with the "Affordable Clean Energy" (ACE) Rule, reports Reuters

The Obama-era legislation was halted by the Supreme Court in February, 2016 after several energy-producing states sued, relegating the decision to the US Court of Appeals in DC where it currently sits in limbo. 

The Trump Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposal would grant states the ability to write their own regulatory policies governing power plant emissions, including the ability to request an opt-out of current federal regulations. 

Pursuant to President Trump’s Executive Order 13873, which directed Federal agencies to review burdensome regulations, the EPA undertook a review of the CPP. Many believed the CPP exceeded EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act, which is why 27 states, 24 trade associations, 37 rural electric co-ops, and three labor unions challenged the rule. Additionally, the Supreme Court issued an unprecedented stay of the rule. -EPA

The EPA has opened the proposal up for a public comment period, while a final EPA rule is expected later this year. 

The move comes amid Trump's "war on coal" - a bid to boost domestic fossil fuels production. Meanwhile, the President is scheduled to hold a rally Tuesday night in West Virginia, a top coal-producing state. 

Obama's 2015 power plan sought to reduce power plant emissions by 32% below 2005 levels by 2030 but never took effect after the Supreme Court halted the measure in response to 2016 legal action brought by several energy-producing states which claimed the EPA had exceeded its legal reach.

“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,” said EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “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.”

“EPA has an important role when it comes to addressing the CO2 from our nation’s power plants,” said Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation Bill Wehrum. “The ACE rule would fulfill this role in a manner consistent with the structure of the Clean Air Act while being equally respectful of its bounds.”

Per the EPA: 

The proposal will work to reduce GHG emissions through four main actions:

1. ACE defines the “best system of emission reduction” (BSER) for existing power plants as on-site, heat-rate efficiency improvements;

2. ACE provides states with a list of “candidate technologies” that can be used to establish standards of performance and be incorporated into their state plans;

3. ACE updates the New Source Review (NSR) permitting program to further encourage efficiency improvements at existing power plants; and

4. ACE aligns regulations under CAA section 111(d) to give states adequate time and flexibility to develop their state plans.

The proposed ACE Rule is informed by more than 270,000 public comments that EPA received as part of its December 2017 Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM).  

EPA’s regulatory impact analysis (RIA) for this proposal includes a variety of scenarios. These scenarios are illustrative because the statute gives states the flexibility needed to consider unit-specific factors – including a particular unit’s remaining useful life – when it comes to standards of performance. Key findings include the following:
• EPA projects that replacing the CPP with the proposal could provide $400 million in annual net benefits.
• The ACE Rule would reduce the compliance burden by up to $400 million per year when compared to CPP.
All four scenarios find that the proposal will reduce CO2 emissions from their current level.
• EPA estimates that the ACE Rule could reduce 2030 CO2 emissions by up to 1.5% from projected levels without the CPP –  the equivalent of taking 5.3 million cars off the road. Further, these illustrative scenarios suggest that when states have fully implemented the proposal, U.S. power sector CO2 emissions could be 33% to 34% below 2005 levels, higher than the projected CO2 emissions reductions from the CPP.