The Trump administration is escalating an effort to revive the flagging U.S. coal industry with a planned move next week to replace restrictive Obama-era climate policies with new rules designed to help coal-burning plants run harder and stay open longer.
The proposed new rules, which the Environmental Protection Agency plans is expected to release within days, would be the latest in a series of reversals of policies the Obama administration adopted to slow climate change. It would replace the agency’s so-called Clean Power Plan for the electricity business with regulations that cede power to states, and could ultimately lead to more heat-trapping gases going into the atmosphere even as it sets parameters to boost efficiency at coal-fired power plants.
President Trump has repeatedly promised to support coal, an industry beset by a shrinking customer base, competition, falling prices and bankruptcies; the plan may be his administration’s most ambitious effort yet to kill regulations on coal’s behalf.
And yet plummeting costs of cleaner fuels including natural gas, wind and solar in recent years have driven consumers and power companies away from coal so dramatically, they may blunt the proposal’s ultimate effect. [Continue reading…]