Mar 13, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Trump's power-plant carbon rule has conflicting impact

President Trump

President Trump. Photo: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / Contributor

The Environmental Protection Agency's rule controlling power plants’ carbon emissions cuts C02 but preserve more coal electricity, according to a recent analysis by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Why it matters: It’s believed to be the first such EIA analysis of the regulation, putting meat on the bones of one of President Trump’s biggest regulatory moves to scale back rules from his predecessor.

Where it stands: The conclusion, tucked away near the end of an EIA analysis released last week, found that the rule would preserve more existing coal electricity, but drop coal consumption due to increased efficiency at power plants. That increased efficiency would still result in a (slight) drop in C02 emissions.

The big picture: The rule would slow (slightly) America's overall decline in coal electricity, but it wouldn't revive coal like Trump has promised.

By the numbers: The timelines range between 2025 and 2050 (light-years away compared to the minute-by-minute corona crisis…)

  • Nine gigawatts less coal-fired electric capacity is closed by 2025 under the rule compared to without the rule.
  • Coal consumption averages 5% more than without the rule, due to greater efficiency, between 2040 and 2050.
  • Therefore, power-plant carbon emissions are 5% more without the rule than with it in 2025, and 2% more in 2050.

The bottom line: The impact is, on an aggregate, minimal in any direction, but these details will likely matter as the regulation slogs its way through the court.

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