Coal-fired power generation is likely to decline in the US over the next two decades, even after the Trump administration’s attempt to ease the regulatory burden on the industry, according to official projections. The estimates were published on Tuesday alongside the Environmental Protection Agency’s new lighter-touch approach to dealing with carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation. They suggest that despite President Donald Trump’s pledge to “ bring back coal” in the US, his administration’s regulatory changes are likely to be able only to slow its decline.
The EPA set out proposals for replacing the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan with a new approach known as the Affordable Clean Energy rule. It abandons the limits for states’ emissions that were set under the CPP, and focuses on improving the efficiency of individual coal-fired plants rather than looking at the electricity system as a whole. EPA officials argued that their plan was in compliance with the Clean Air Act’s requirements on controlling pollution, whereas the Obama administration’s more ambitious strategy had been regulatory “over-reach”.
Bill Wehrum, the EPA’s assistant administrator for its Office of Air and Radiation, said the rise of gas-fired power and renewable energy mean that the world had changed significantly since President Barack Obama announced the CPP in 2015, and those trends were likely to continue to shape the US electricity industry.