Nevada conservationists joined the chorus of critics nationwide and blasted the Trump administration’s plan to boost output at coal-burning power plants.
Trump moved formally Tuesday to replace President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, an environmental policy that aimed to curb climate change by moving the power sector away from coal and toward renewable energy sources and cutting carbon emissions by about one-third by 2030.
The former president once called the agenda “the single most important step America has ever taken in the fight against global climate change.”
The new proposal, called the Affordable Clean Energy Rule, would give individual states more leeway to loosen standards for regulating greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants within a federal framework, in an effort to give coal-fired plants more of an economic advantage over other energy sources.
If finalized, states would have three years to propose a plan that would satisfy their obligation to regulate emissions from power plants which would then be reviewed by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The rule is still years away from being implemented but is already facing criticism from Nevada conservation groups.
Obama administration policy “encouraged investment in cleaner, safer energy sources like solar, geothermal, and wind,” said Andy Maggi, Executive Director of the Nevada Conservation League. “Clean energy is creating jobs and driving economic growth. Reversing the Clean Power Plan and replacing it with a weak alternative will have a damaging impact on Nevadans.”
The Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign in Nevada also blasted the new proposal, Trump and Acting Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler.
“Across Nevada, switching from fossil fuels to clean energy is creating jobs, protecting air and water from pollution, and guaranteeing electric bills will stay low,” said Elspeth MiMarzio, a campaign representative for the Sierra Club campaign. “Nevadans know clean energy is the future for our state; rolling back the Clean Power Plan to help polluters doesn’t change that.”
The New York Times reported Tuesday that by the EPA’s own estimate, the new rules could lead to as many 1,400 premature deaths each year from coal plant pollution.
“We love coal,” Trump said at a rally in West Virginia Tuesday. “You know, it’s indestructible stuff. In times of war, in times of conflict, you can blow up those windmills. They fall down real quick. You can blow up those pipelines real quick. You can do a lot of things to those solar panels, but you know what you can’t hurt? Coal. You can do whatever you want to coal.”
For years, the number of coal-fired power plants has been getting smaller and smaller, as the plants have not been able to compete economically with renewables and especially natural gas. Natural gas is cheaper than coal, and natural gas plants are much less expensive to build.
Coal-fired plants have been retired in Nevada in recent years. The only remaining plant is in Humboldt County and only runs during peak summer demand.