EPA moves to dramatically cut regulation of coal power


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration moved to dismantle another major piece of President Barack Obama's environmental legacy today, proposing to dramatically scale back restrictions on climate-changing emissions from coal-fired power plants even as it acknowledged that could lead to more premature deaths and serious illnesses.

The Trump plan broadly increases the authority given states to decide how and how much to regulate coal power plants. The Environmental Protection Agency said the move "empowers states, promotes energy independence and facilitates economic growth and job creation."

Bill Wehrum, head of the EPA's air office, said the administration rejects any suggestion the agency has a broad legal duty to combat climate change through regulation of power grids or promotion of cleaner energy.

"An important part of what we're doing here is getting us back into our lane," Wehrum said.

Environmentalists and other opponents said they expect legal challenges, arguing the Trump administration is abdicating its responsibilities under the Clean Air Act as set by Congress and the courts.

The Natural Resources Defense Council called the replacement proposal President Donald Trump's "Dirty Power Plan."

The Trump administration is emphasizing "coal at all costs," said Gina McCarthy, EPA administrator when the Obama plan was developed.

"There is no other country in the world that is looking at coal as its future – they are all running to clean energy to save money, create jobs and save lives today and protect our children's future. Climate change is real," McCarthy said in a statement.

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