With coal miners at his side, Trump signed an order in March 2017 directing the EPA to scrap the Obama rule. "When ACE is fully implemented, we expect to see USA power sector Carbon dioxide emissions fall by as much as 35 percent below 2005 levels".
Nicholas Steckler, head of US power at BloombergNEF summed up coal's predicament this way: "Coal is inferior to natural gas in many ways today - it's less flexible, it's higher cost, even its fuel is generally more expensive, and, of course, it's dirty". Trump campaigned partly on a pledge to bring back the coal industry, which has been hit hard by competition from cheaper natural gas and renewable energy.
Matt Preston, a coal analyst at Wood Mackenzie, said he could imagine a scenario in which regulated utilities in conservative states use the rule as justification to upgrade their coal facilities.
While the Obama administration and Democrats saw the Clean Power Plan as a crucial component in worldwide efforts to curb global warming, Republicans have long claimed those regulations went too far and were too costly. To hell with pollution or carbon emissions, the new rule is meant to give states more time and authority to decide how to implement the best new technology to ease net emissions from coal-fired plants.
"I'm glad the current leadership here at EPA understands we can have smart environmental regulations and protect coal jobs and our economy at the same time", said Johnson, noting that OEPA said the now rescinded Obama plan would have unnecessarily threatened electric reliability, reduced manufacturing and coal mining employment and boosted electric rates.
It remains to be seen, however, how much of an impact the rule will actually have for coal plants.
Wheeler said he expects more coal plants to open as a result. She criticized the Trump administration's new rule.
"Keep in mind, the Clean Power Plan had little or no effect on the environment, but the reality was, it was devastating to our coal industry across America, coal country", said Rep. David B. McKinley, a West Virginia Republican who chairs the congressional Coal Caucus.
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U.S. stocks turned higher on Wednesday, with the benchmark S&P 500 index up about 0.3 percent from the previous day's close. They'll also have to be careful to avoid rushing a cut, especially in cases where inflation is still sitting above target.
"The issue brought up in our comments and that was prominent in the original litigation is that the Clean Air Act states that stationary sources regulated under 112 can not be regulated under 111", Myron Ebell, CEI's director of energy and environment policy, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. The rule provides for increased power plant efficiencies and enables states to make their own individual determinations about energy infrastructure.
Critics of the new plan say that giving states more leeway to control their own emissions as the ACE rule does, allows certain regions to dodge regulating pollution, and abdicates the federal government's responsibility.
In a press release today, the EPA said that states would have three years to propose pathways to complying with the ACE rule.
"This will not change the market trend of coal plant retirement", said Julie McNamara, senior energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
"Americans want reliable energy that they can afford", Wheeler declared at the signing ceremony, with White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney alongside to underscore Trump's approval. And Trump's own EPA released data earlier this year showing that greenhouse gas reductions have slowed significantly in the US since 2017.
Adding to the pressure on coal, more cities, states, businesses and even some utilities are committing to carbon-free electricity by mid-century. "Any CPP replacement rule would be unlawful for the same reason", the conservative groups wrote.