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Trump’s New Clean Energy Rule Is a Last-Ditch Effort to Save the Coal Industry

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The Trump administration’s replacement for Obama‘s signature climate rule is meant to be a lifeline for the nation’s coal-fired power plants, but it may be too late.

The Trump administration is expected to deal another blow to President Barack Obama‘s signature climate rule this week. As early as Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency could release the final version of the Affordable Clean Energy rule—the administration’s replacement for the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which sought to limit emissions from coal-fired power plants and spur investment in renewable energy sources.

The United States’ energy sector accounts for about a third of total U.S. emissions, and Obama‘s Clean Power Plan was hailed in 2015 as the strongest climate action of any sitting president. The plan was expected to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants by 32 percent by 2030, bolster renewable energy sources, and save tens of billions of dollars in health-care and climate-related costs—all while saving Americans an average of $85 per year on their electricity bills

President Donald Trump took aim at the Clean Power Plan early on the campaign trail, promising to repeal the rule that he called a “crushing attack on American industry.” His administration’s replacement, which is expected to look similar to the draft ACE rule released last summer, gives states more control over emissions reductions targets for coal plants.

Obama‘s Clean Power Plan set strict, state-wide emissions reduction targets and outlined three main pillars to achieve them: efficiency improvements at existing coal plants, and replacing coal with both natural gas and renewable resources. It sought to reduce energy-related emissions by encouraging a transition to low- and then zero-carbon energy sources. But Trump‘s EPA has argued that it doesn’t have the authority to force states to alter their energy mixes

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