The Trump Administration has now publicly disclosed its court-ordered replacement for the Clean Power Plan (CPP). The proposal, which the Administration has disingenuously anointed the "Affordable Clean Energy" rule (ACE), has little to do with cleaner air, lower utility rates, or reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, the Administration is indulging coal industry executives at the expense of public health and safety. "The proposed rule is another failure in leadership by this Administration to protect the public and is a sharp divergence from the fundamental mission of the Environmental Protection Agency," said EESI Executive Director Carol Werner.
The Administration claims its rule is designed to give state governments the flexibility to regulate air pollutants from the electricity sector on their own terms. Yet, the CPP already featured a genuine state-driven approach by granting each state the authority to develop its own path toward achieving its custom emission reduction goals. By stripping away the multi-pronged approach of the CPP and incentivizing further investment in aging coal-fired power plants, the Administration's proposal would greatly reduce state flexibility in the long run. States that have been weighed down by outdated coal-fired electricity will be at even greater risk of falling behind as the country's clean energy economy moves forward. The innovative approaches states have taken in regulating air pollution and accelerating clean energy development in the years since the Clean Power Plan was published should be embraced, not hindered.
This plan would move the country backward, as utilities, state governments, and the American economy have been moving on from a coal-heavy energy mix. Indeed, although the Clean Power Plan never went into effect, it sent a signal that bolstered the underlying trends in the power market. Consumers are embracing renewable energy like never before—producing a plan that embraces coal-fired electricity is simply contrary to the prevailing market trends. "By choosing to provide a sliver of financial relief to flagging energy companies that failed to read the writing on the wall when it came to coal, the White House is making a dangerous tradeoff. Even the EPA's own analysis is indicating the proposed rule will undercut the agency's founding mandate to safeguard public health," said EESI Policy Associate Brian La Shier. This is a reckless proposal that will handcuff future Presidents who may seek to rein in industry excesses through the Clean Air Act.
According to EPA's own analysis of the ACE, the rule would produce very slim benefits for the utility industry and relatively little job creation. The economic benefits of the rule would largely be concentrated in the coal industry, to the detriment of thriving, forward-looking American businesses in the renewable energy and natural gas sectors. Meanwhile, the policy is projected to generate between $12.8 billion and $72 billion in new health costs by 2037, including up to 1,400 additional premature deaths per year. Overall, the Trump Administration's Affordable Clean Energy rule could cost up to $5.4 billion more than the Clean Power Plan it's meant to replace. "In its misguided attempt to drag coal back into a utility sector that has steadily distanced itself from the dirtiest fossil fuels, the Administration has blatantly ignored the cross-boundary nature of air pollution and the global consequences of greenhouse gas emissions," said Carol Werner.