President Trump plans next week to unveil a proposal that would empower states to establish emission standards for coal-fired power plants rather than speeding their retirement – a major overhaul of the Obama administration’s signature climate policy that could significantly increase the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Trump plans to announce the measure as soon as Tuesday during a visit to West Virginia, according to the two administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s own impact analysis, which runs nearly 300 pages, projects that the proposal would make only slight cuts to overall emissions of pollutants – including carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides – over the next decade. The Obama rule, by contrast, dwarfs those cuts by a factor of more than 12.

The new proposal, which will be subject to a 60-day comment period, could have enormous implications for dozens of aging coal-fired power plants across the country. EPA estimates the measure will affect more than 300 U.S. plants, providing companies with an incentive to keep coal plants in operation rather than replacing them with cleaner natural gas or renewable energy projects.

And while EPA projects that the U.S. power sector’s overall carbon output will decline over time due to market pressures and other factors, the policy shift would make it increasingly difficult for America to meet the international climate goals it adopted under the previous administration.


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