CHARLESTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a new rule called Affordable Clean Energy that will relax carbon emission limits on power plants.
The Affordable Clean Energy proposal would replace the Clean Power Plan, which was first proposed in 2014 and was stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016 and never went into effect.
"The EPA’s proposal represents a crucial step in restoring law and order,” Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said in a statement provided to The West Virginia Record. "The Affordable Clean Energy rule makes important strides in reversing the Obama-era Power Plan.
"Our coalition will closely examine the proposal and continue to support President Trump’s administration in implementing this important change to protect West Virginia coal miners and those who depend upon their success.”
Gov. Jim Justice also praised the move.
"President Trump has followed through on his promise to get rid of the Clean Power Plan and use American energy to fuel economic growth," Justice, a Republican, said. "The ACE rule will help West Virginia big time and will bring back energy jobs like you can’t imagine.
"To have this announcement on the day President Trump visits West Virginia for the sixth time is just incredible, and another testament to his commitment to helping our great state and country."
Jake Glance, the communications director for West Virginia Department of Environment Protection (DEP) said he looks forward to viewing the proposal.
"WVDEP looks forward to reviewing the proposal and, if appropriate, will make formal comments in the rule docket," Glance said in a statement provided to The West Virginia Record.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) called the Clean Power Plan a complete overreach by the federal government.
"Not only was the one-size-fits-all approach disastrous for West Virginia’s coal industry but there was also absolutely no consideration for the economic effects the plan would have on an energy-rich state like ours," Capito said in a statement provided to The West Virginia Record. "I’m encouraged the EPA’s newly proposed Affordable Clean Energy plan allows state input and clearly signals the war on coal is over."
Congressman David B. McKinley, (R-W.Va. and chairman of the Congressional Coal Caucus) agreed.
“President Trump is keeping his promise to revitalize the coal industry," McKinley said. "One of his first actions in office was to roll back the Obama Administration’s regulations on power plants that were an unconstitutional, bureaucratic and ideologically-driven assault designed to kill coal.
“Under President Trump’s leadership, our country is taking a different path that promotes American energy dominance and innovation that allows us to use our abundant resources cleaner than ever before. Rather than overstepping its role, the government will work with the states and give them the flexibility to set standards. And the government will no longer pick winners and losers in an attempt to set America’s energy policy."
The EPA said it hopes Affordable Clean Energy will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing coal-fired electric utility generating units and power plants across the country.
The proposed rule will establish guidelines for states to use when developing plans to limit greenhouse gas emissions at their power plants.
Affordable Clean Energy will reduce emissions by defining the best system of emission reduction for existing plants; provide states with "candidate technologies" that can establish standards for state plans, will update the new source review permitting program for improvement of efficiency for existing plans and will align regulations to provide states time to develop plans on a state level, according to the EPA's proposal.
The EPA will allow comments on the proposal for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. A public hearing also will be held.