News | August 21, 2018

EPA proposes do-nothing approach to greenhouse gas rule

Administration plan gives coal-burning utilities a pass

The Trump EPA today extended its unprecedented streak of placating polluters, this time floating a plan that will do little or nothing to reduce greenhouse gas pollution by, among other things, potentially lengthening the lifespans of the nation’s oldest and dirtiest coal-fired power plants.

The administration plan essentially abandons the federal role in reducing greenhouse gas pollution from power plants.

The only beneficiaries are coal-burning utilities that have been polluting our Southeastern states for decades.

Amanda Garcia, Senior Attorney

The Trump administration plan is similar to one proposed and later abandoned by North Carolina. 

In response to the Clean Power Plan, North Carolina environmental regulators proposed in 2016 that utilities do what they could to clean up greenhouse gas pollution, but only from the coal plants themselves. The state regulators took the word of utilities when they said nothing more could be done, and excused them from even limited pollution controls.

The plan would have barely made a dent in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and was far from what would have been required under the Clean Power Plan.

Now the Trump EPA is proposing to take this do-nothing approach nationwide and provide a path for utilities to take no meaningful steps to clean up greenhouse gas pollution. 

We’ve been here before. For decades, coal plants in the Southeast belched pollution with little to rein them in. Southern utilities fought hard, and have continued to fight, when environmental groups like SELC force them to clean up the smog through the Clean Air Act. But it worked. You can actually see Southern skylines now that not long ago were obscured with smog. By ignoring this history, the Trump EPA’s proposal threatens to halt progress toward clean energy and clean air in the Southeast.

—SELC Senior Attorney Amanda Garcia