Dec 4, 2018

EPA to replace Obama coal-plant rule

Piles of coal sit in front of Pacificorp's 1440 megawatt coal fired power plant. Photo: George Frey/Getty Images

The Environmental Protection Agency is set to announce Thursday it is weakening an Obama-era rule that had required costly technology capturing carbon dioxide emissions on new coal plants, according to multiple people familiar with the news.

Why it matters: This is the latest regulatory rollback effort by President Trump in his attempt to revive America’s coal industry that's declining in the face of cheap natural gas and tougher environmental rules from the last administration.

Details: Obama's EPA had issued a rule requiring any new coal plants to install technology that can capture CO2 emissions, which is technically feasible but too expensive in most cases.

  • Trump's EPA is set to announce that such technology is no longer required.
  • These rules are parallel to another Obama-era regulation imposing CO2 standards on existing coal-fired power plants, which the EPA is in the process of replacing as well with a far less stringent standard.
  • Acting EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler will make the announcement Thursday afternoon in Washington, alongside Harry Alford, CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, according to an advisory that didn't specify the policy itself.

The EPA has not yet returned Axios' request for comment.

The big picture: New coal plants are unlikely in the U.S., no matter what Trump does, because of cheap and cleaner-burning natural gas, along with increasingly cheap renewables. Most utilities think coal will eventually face some sort of CO2 standard, so even though Trump is rolling back such rules now, they’re staying the course.

What’s next: The process to replace the regulation takes many months and goes through a public comment period.

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Trump announces 30-day extension of coronavirus guidelines

President Trump announced on Sunday that his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30 in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus, which has now infected more than 130,000 Americans and killed nearly 2,500.

Why it matters: Top advisers to the president have been seeking to steer him away from Easter as an arbitrary deadline for the U.S. to open parts of its economy, amid warnings from health officials that loosening restrictions could cause the number of coronavirus cases to skyrocket.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 716,101 — Total deaths: 33,854 — Total recoveries: 148,900.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 136,880 — Total deaths: 2,409 — Total recoveries: 2,612.
  3. Federal government latest: The first federal prisoner to die from coronavirus was reported from a correctional facility in Louisiana on Sunday.
  4. Public health updates: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from virus.
  5. State updates: Louisiana governor says state is on track to exceed ventilator capacity by end of this week — Cuomo says Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "panicked" some people into fleeing New York
  6. World updates: Italy on Sunday reports 756 new deaths, bringing its total 10,779. Spain reports almost 840 dead, another new daily record that bring its total to over 6,500.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Trump touts press briefing "ratings" as U.S. coronavirus case surge

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump sent about a half-dozen tweets on Sunday touting the high television ratings that his coronavirus press briefings have received, selectively citing a New York Times article that compared them to "The Bachelor" and "Monday Night Football."

Why it matters: The president has been holding daily press briefings in the weeks since the coronavirus pandemic was declared, but news outlets have struggled with how to cover them live — as Trump has repeatedly been found to spread misinformation and contradict public health officials.