An interagency task force on Saturday identified the companies that are likely to be impacted by the rollback of safety measures from the power-plant Obama-era rule known as Clean Power Plan. The rules were intended to limit pollution from coal-fired power plants and had the backing of many environmental and consumer groups, who argued it would prevent serious health problems like asthma and heart attacks. Opponents, including Republicans in Congress and coal- and oil-rich states and energy companies, have fought the rules in court.
Sections of the Power Plan took effect in 2015. The office of independent regulatory affairs at the Environmental Protection Agency said the rollback of the standards would affect about 440 million people across the United States. Though it is not illegal to phase out the rules, they are expected to be challenged by groups that claim the rule fails to meet federal standards. The rollback is expected to affect state-based rules as well.
The Obama administration said the rule would cut greenhouse gas emissions 34 percent compared with 2005 levels by 2030. The Trump administration said those emissions would be cut about 13 percent. They would also fall by more than one-fifth by 2032 compared with 2005 levels. Coal-fired power plants account for one-third of electricity generation in the United States. While the EPA did not specifically say whether the impact of the rollback would be a net gain or loss of power, it said that industry is already closing coal-fired plants while coal-mining jobs have been disappearing for years. The availability of natural gas from fracking and other fossil fuels that has lowered costs has been a reason. The rollback will have an impact on those economies, the EPA said, but also “recognizes the impact of many factors on power generation and electricity cost and reliability.”
President Trump has said the effort is a tax cut. On Saturday, the EPA said it had made “a concerted effort to consider each of the costs of emissions,” but that the administration still believes the policy will help U.S. power plants compete globally. “After a long-drawn out regulatory process, the Clean Power Plan has been more than three years old. The delay is not in the rules – it is in the participation. It’s taken the EPA this long to comply with the Clean Air Act while China, India, and Europe move forward to use clean energy without a plan and endanger the public health and welfare,” said Robert C. Bork, an EPA spokesperson. The findings of the interagency task force are based on studies from five federal agencies, including several independent groups.