Trump rolls back carbon emissions rule in bid to boost coal industry

The Trump administration has unveiled plans to reverse Obama-era carbon emissions regulations that restricted new coal plants, despite government data revealing that coal use in the US is at its lowest level in decades.

A new proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would replace an Obama-era rule that required carbon capture technology for all new coal plants. The technology prevents harmful emissions from entering the atmosphere but is not in use on a commercial scale.

The draft replacement rule would allow new coal plants to open providing they meet certain efficiency requirements. The EPA said it didn’t expect the change to result in significantly more carbon dioxide emissions overall.

“By replacing onerous regulations with high, yet achievable, standards, we can continue America’s historic energy production, keep energy prices affordable, and encourage new investments in cutting-edge technology that can then be exported around the world,” said acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

The proposals arrive in a week when the international community meets to discuss how to drastically reduce carbon emissions at the COP24 climate change conference in Poland.

Meanwhile in the US, government data shows that coal consumption is at its lowest level in 39 years, with natural gas now established as a cheaper and less environmentally damaging energy source. Renewable energy has also eaten into coal’s market share in the US.