EPA repeals Clean Power Plan

On October 10, the Environmental Protection Agency ordered the Obama-era Clean Power Plan (CPP) repealed.  The CPP was a massive regulation, established during the Obama administration for the purpose of reducing emissions from coal-fired power plants to 32 percent by 2030, compared to 2005 levels. The CPP would have put strict limits the emissions from some 600 coal-fired plants, located mainly in the Midwest and the East, and by forcing states to adopt renewable energy projects.  To get a sense of perspective, 120 coal-fired power plants have closed since 2015 because of cost increases from previous regulations, including one of the nation's biggest.

The decision will not become effective for some time, as a public notice must be published by EPA in the Federal Register, for which the public has 60 days to comment.  A replacement rule will then have to drafted and reviewed.  The CPP had been put on a hold status by the U.S. Supreme Court after 28 states' attorneys general and many in the industry went to court.  Trump ordered the EPA to review the plan in March.  Secretary Scott Pruitt's assessment of the plan was that it is an unlawful expansion of the agency's authority under the Clean Air Act.

The EPA estimates that repealing the rule will avoid approximately $33 billion per year in compliance costs.  Had it gone into effect, the regulation would also have weakened the nation's power grid, because coal is the most reliable fuel source.  The wind does not blow all the time, solar is reliable at most one half of the time, and there can be issues with delivery of natural gas.  These have been suggested as alternatives to coal.  Despite substantial growth in wind and solar energy, they still represent only about 7 percent of the power Americans use.

Coal is just too cheap and too plentiful.

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