Trump rolls back Obama-era emission standards

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) – The Trump administration proposed new rules Tuesday aimed at rolling back coal emissions standards established by former President Barack Obama in a bid to curb climate change.

In a statement announcing the proposed new rules, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) called Obama's 2015 Clean Power Plan "overly prescriptive and burdensome."

The Supreme Court stayed the rule in 2016 following legal action from multiple Republican state attorneys general and industry advocacy groups.

President Donald Trump's alternative, which is known as the Affordable Clean Energy Rule, "empowers states, promotes energy independence, and facilitates economic growth and job creation," the EPA said.

The plan lifts some restrictions on coal-fired power plants, shifting emissions regulations to states.

Opponents of the move have warned that the changes would likely hike U.S. carbon emissions, but Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the new 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.”

The Natural Resources Defense Council was unswayed, saying "The world’s on fire and the Trump administration wants to make it worse."

“This Dirty Power Plan is riddled with gimmicks and giveaways. It would mean more climate-changing pollution from power plants. That’s a recipe for climate disaster," council President Rhea Suh said in a statement.

Trump has long derided what he and Republican call a "war on coal" fueled in part by Obama's plan. But the growing shift away from coal is also based on the declining costs associated with cleaner alternatives such as natural gas, wind and solar power.

In addition to shifting emissions regulation to states, Trumps plan allows states to ease regulations for power plants that are in need of upgrades.

Trump is expected to tout the plan during a rally in West Virginia Tuesday evening. The state has long relied heavily on the coal in its mountains to fuel economic activity.

Tuesday's roll-out begins a public comment period before the rule is finalized.