The rolling back of some regulations against coal plants in Oklahoma and the rest of the nation was formally announced Tuesday by the Trump administration. The steps are considered to be the most significant weakening of the restrictive environmental rules created under the administration of President Barack Obama.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s new Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule allows states the flexibility to set their own standards for performance at existing coal-fired power plants, rather than follow a single federal standard. The EPA said the new ACE rule is designed to replace the 2015 Clean Power Plan fought by Scott Pruitt when he was attorney general in Oklahoma. Other attorneys general joined Pruitt in filing legal challenges to the Clean Power Plan.
As expected, environmentalists are critical of the ACE rule and what the Trump administration has done, warning it will result in higher emissions from coal-fired burning power plants such as those in Oklahoma.
“The plan calls for only modest efficiency improvements at individual power plants, which will barely make a dent in cutting heat-trapping emissions from the electricity sector, and could even, under some circumstances, lead to increased emissions depending on how much the plants are run,” said Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists.
“This proposal would also result in more pollution from nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, mercury and other harmful pollutants.”
EPA acting administrator Andrew Wheeler signed the plan late Monday but it will be subject to a 60-day comment period before it can be finalized and put into effect.
“The ACE Rule, if finalized, will significantly decrease bureaucratic red tape and compliance costs, keeping American energy affordable and competitive on the world stage,” the White House said in a statement, adding that the savings would amount to $6.4 billion.