Dec 6, 2018, 1:35 PM ET

Trump administration's new proposal aimed at helping coal industry

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The Trump administration wants to make it easier for energy companies to open new coal-fired power plants, even as government data shows the U.S. is at the lowest level of coal use in decades.

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The Environmental Protection Agency's proposal would require new power plants to have more advanced technology than in their older counterparts and proposes a higher limit on how much carbon dioxide they can release. EPA says they don't expect the change will result in significantly more carbon dioxide emissions overall.

"By replacing onerous regulations with high, yet achievable, standards, we can continue America’s historic energy production, keep energy prices affordable, and encourage new investments in cutting-edge technology that can then be exported around the world," Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement.

PHOTO: Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump models a hard hat in support of the miners during his rally at the Charleston Civic Center on Charleston, W.Va, May 5, 2016.Mark Lyons/Getty Images FILE
Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump models a hard hat in support of the miners during his rally at the Charleston Civic Center on Charleston, W.Va, May 5, 2016.

The proposal eases an Obama-era rule that said new power plants had to include equipment to limit and capture carbon dioxide emissions – a regulation which industry groups said was burdensome and essentially blocked any new plants.

The Trump administration's move signals continued support for coal even as the international community is set to meet next week about how to drastically reduce emissions from fossil fuels that worsen climate change.

President Donald Trump promised to bring back coal miners' jobs and remove regulations on coal as a central part of his campaign, saying the Obama administration went too far to impose rules intended to limit pollution and emissions that contribute to climate change.

While Obama-era regulations have been blamed for why some power plants decided to close they aren't the only reason coal use has declined in the U.S. over the last decade.

Government data shows that U.S. coal consumption is at its lowest level in 39 years and that coal-fired power plants continue to close, citing cheaper natural gas, older facilities, and competition from renewable energy.

The Energy Information Administration says that only one "relatively small" facility is expected to come online by the end of 2019.

PHOTO: Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler speaks to staff at the Environmental Protection Agency headquarters on July 11, 2018, in Washington, D.C.Mark Wilson/Getty Images, FILE
Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler speaks to staff at the Environmental Protection Agency headquarters on July 11, 2018, in Washington, D.C.

Companies like Duke Energy have announced plans to close coal-fired power plants, according to the Charlotte Observer, and say they don't plan to open more coal-powered facilities in the future.

The EPA has proposed replacements to other Obama-era rules on power plants, including more flexible regulations on pollution and greenhouse gas emissions that would enable states to set their own requirements.

Those proposals have not yet been finalized. The proposed rule announced Thursday will be open for 60 days of public comment.

News - Trump administration's new proposal aimed at helping coal industry

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  • kent

    Good!! What a waste of effort to try and over regulate the coal industry. Cow farts cause more pollution. What is the world doing about that problem??

  • xbutter

    Republicans are going to make miners' black lung benefits go away by letting the funding expire. Coal miners can't see that they are nothing to Trump but props to be used in his rallies. Supporting his Denialist agenda and his support for mine owners who want to gut safety regulations is going to kill many of them anyways if the black lung disease doesn't do it first, so there is no point in wasting political resources trying to change their minds. Funds are better spent trying to recruit other groups of people who haven't fallen into the rabbit hole of political idol worship conflated with fundamentalist religion.

  • Justice4All2

    Nothing new here. Coal has been on the decline for over 10 years. Market forces are killing these jobs. Quit whining and learn a new skill.

  • Prophet With Honor

    Even the most famous steam automobile, the Stanley, did not burn cheap available coal back in the dawn of the last century. Gasoline or kerosene fired the boiler.
    People then thought ahead of this Admin.

  • AlexaGuyer

    What has Trump done for the coal miners for the past two years? Nothing! Even though he campaigned that he would refurbish the coal industry (just like Mexico was going to pay for the wall). This is a last ditch effort to pacify his base. Coal is dead.

  • mollydtt

    Wind power is cheaper than coal. Why do we have to pay higher utility prices to support coal?

  • Bluejay

    Why do they want to create "clean coal" mining jobs after Trump just created a mess load of jobs for people raking forests?

  • Treblig56

    Environment Pollution Agency

  • jimrussell

    My god mom and dad, it's still not crystal clear to Trump and Republicans money for and donations from the nations polluters now are far more important than your children's health and future? Quit being so responsible, it's only your kids.

  • Gargos

    "EPA says they don't expect the change will result in significantly more carbon dioxide emissions overall."

    I would LOVE to see the EPA's science on this, you know, considering that the EPA has all but kicked out any actual scientists from their advisory boards.

    The only way the EPA's math works out is if energy companies just don't open new coal plants period, despite the decrease in regulation. Nothing would be better for our planet, but it's still not the point. It's just another example of Trump shunning actual science and economics for personal gain.

    Even if coal production increases to cover that whole ONE new plant opening in 2019, those jobs aren't coming back. The coal industry is largely automated at this point, so it's a lose/lose for our country.

  • SFprogressive

    ONE LAST TIME, There is no clean coal, We have alternatives, This is classic pandering, NIow, toi give coal miners a future, offer major additional tax incentives to bring industries of the future to coal country,

  • Alex Ross

    Trump U., Trump steaks, water, board game, airlines, vodka, magazine, casino's and coal ALL have one thing in common. Trump and FAILURE.

    He can soon add presidency to the list.

  • Tyler U

    He looks so stupid in that hard hat. First off, it doesn't work with the suit. Second, it's too small for his giant head, and third, that is probably the first time he has ever worn a hard hat in his life. It likely would have been beneficial throughout his childhood, since, oftentimes, I fear his nanny dropped him on it. Repeatedly.

  • Alex Ross

    ...and if the coal miners killed a Trump hated journalist, Trump would ignore and be okay with that too.

  • AngeredVoter

    You just can't fix stupid!

  • WhosVoice

    Wind & solar energy employ more people than coal. Trump just wants the world to burn. He doesn't care. He won't live long enough to deal with the consequences.

  • John Michael Davis

    Did they say anything about steam? I heard that was making a comeback too!

  • Fatesrider

    I'm thinking rotten fish.

    Why rotten fish? Well, coal used to be used everywhere. The industry was "fresh" and "new" and easy, cheap power. That's because human life to the coal companies was cheap. The term "company scrip" was mostly applied to the mining industry, after all. They've been polluting our air, lakes, streams and oceans since the 1800's with things far worse than carbon dioxide.

    Remember "acid rain" and mercury poisoned fishing? Coal did that.

    But as it turns out, global demand for coal is declining, and that's because what was once fresh and new is now old, decayed and smelly, and no one wants it. Economic incentives for businesses to use coal means squat when demand for it is declining, because no business is stupid enough to try to create "growth" in the face of global declines in demand.

    Want "coal" to make a comeback? Tough luck. It's never going to come back because there are cleaner and CHEAPER ways of generating power. Even if coal was cheaper than those ways (which it is not), the side effects of coal generated power are too costly to make it a viable way to produce electricity.

    There is no demand today to bring back financial incentives for blacksmiths, because there's not an increasing demand for horseshoes. So those in the coal industry would do well to do what the blacksmiths did as the horseless carriage rose in popularity: Train for another career.

    Coal will always be mined, since certain varieties of it serve the steel industry well. But coal for heating and power? That's going the way of the Dodo bird. And no amount of financial incentives will change that.

  • JerseyJeff78

    Trump trying to fight market forces to prop up uneconomical use of coal is the ugliest type of crony capitalism and bad governance.

  • GLC

    In the 1960's we looked to the moon. In 2018 the dimwit is looking at the 1800's and coal. While the rest of the developed world adopts clean energy alternatives, the US is becoming increasing more of a third world country. This Country has as much need of coal as we do crank telephones and party lines. What's next coal oil lamps and company towns. Let's Make America Backwards Again.

  • Mike Kennedy

    Why waste the time and money trying to rescue this dirty, grossly polluting fossil fuel? There is no real need for this.