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Critics Say Trump Coal Rules Step Backward for Ohio

The 2015 Clean Power Plan was projected to cut carbon emissions to 19 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. (William Alden/Flickr)
The 2015 Clean Power Plan was projected to cut carbon emissions to 19 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. (William Alden/Flickr)
September 6, 2018

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The public can now comment on the Trump administration's proposal to replace the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era rule aimed at drastically cutting carbon emissions from coal power plants.

Under what's being called the Affordable Clean Energy Rule, or ACE, states would develop their own reduction goals and submit their plans within three years to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Dan Sawmiller, Ohio Energy Policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, says the new proposal nixes the Clean Power Plan's specific goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in each state.

"As of 2017, Ohio was already cutting carbon emissions by nearly 17 percent compared to 2012, so this is really an unfortunate step backward that means more carbon pollution, more climate catastrophe and a more dangerous world for our future," he states.

Ohio ranks 11th nationally in coal production. The 2015 Clean Power Plan was put on hold by the U.S. Supreme Court and has not yet taken effect.

Public comments on ACE will be accepted through Oct. 30.

Janet McCabe, a senior law fellow at the Environmental Law and Policy Center, is a former EPA assistant administrator who worked on the Clean Power Plan.

She's concerned the new proposal would delay implementing meaningful air quality improvements in a number of ways, including changing the way an older coal plant's remaining life is factored into how it should be handled.

"The proposal gives the states, really, ultimate discretion to require nothing at all,” she points out. “What this rule would allow is for a state to say, 'Well, given the remaining useful life of this plant, it doesn't make sense to require it to do anything.'"

Sawmiller adds that clean and renewable energy sources will be the losers should ACE be approved, as the proposed rule pits certain power plants against others.

"It could make other struggling coal plants in the region like in Indiana, for example, more competitive, which would out compete Ohio's generators, forcing the state of Ohio to rely more on electricity imports, and those imports would be more coal-heavy," he points out.

He says the Affordable Clean Energy plan would cut emissions, at most, to 1.5 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The Clean Power Plan was projected to cut emissions by 19 percent.

Mary Kuhlman/Eric Galatas, Public News Service - OH