Those moves have been rebuffed by California and a dozen other states, which have led a push to maintain high environmental standards and legally challenge the Trump administration's rollback of the Obama-era rules. Anything that enhances government control of the energy economy and punishes fossil fuels is seen as virtuous, while solutions. At the same time, it also eliminates a longstanding rule that forced plants to install new pollution controls whenever they undertake major renovations.
Announcing the regulation on Tuesday, Bill Wehrum, the EPA's assistant administrator for the office of air and radiation, told journalists that he had worked at the EPA under President George W. Bush when the agency tried to argue that it did not have the legal authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. On Tuesday night, Mr. Trump is visiting West Virginia - one of the states hit hardest by the decline of coal - in a rally supporting Republican Senate candidate Patrick Morrisey.
But the political reality is that despite the real world evidence of record-hot summers, historic floods, and unprecedented wildfires, the Trump administration remains more focused on coal interests in West Virginia than the risks of global warming. Andrew Wheeler, the current acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, is a former coal industry lobbyist. The EPA's own scientific analysis of its new rule reportedly admits that the Affordable Clean Energy Rule could lead to almost 1,400 extra deaths per year compared to what would have occurred under the Clean Power Plan.
The Natural Resources Defense Council called the replacement proposal Trump's 'Dirty Power Plan'.
Trump's efforts to save coal have included everything from moving to pull out of the Paris Agreement on climate change to using national security law to propose intervening in electricity markets to protect coal.
The EPA previously estimated the Clean Power Plan would have helped avoid up to 3,600 premature deaths, 90,000 child asthma attacks, and 300,000 missed school and work days a year by 2030. It would set pollution guidelines based on assumptions about what improvements could be eked out through efficiency upgrades at the facilities, then give states the latitude to design their own plans for paring carbon dioxide emissions at the sites.
In many states, the CPP's limits on emissions have already been met because the cost of generating power from natural gas and renewable energy like wind and solar is cheaper than coal.
The EPA's rule is created to bring energy efficiency to the utility sector and doesn't undercut the environmental protections that already in place and will remain on the books, according to Wheeler.
The Trump plan "will make no meaningful reductions" in greenhouse gas emissions "and it probably will make emissions worse", Doniger said.
Administration officials are on track to finalize the new regulation next year, following a 60-day public comment period on Tuesday's proposal, but critics have already vowed to battle the effort in federal court and the legal disputes could take years to resolve. He previously announced plans to withdraw from the Paris climate accords, calling it an unfair deal for Americans. In that view, regulating coal-fired power plants is as far as the agency can go. By contrast, the EPA says that the new rule would reduce carbon emissions from the power sector by just 1.5 percent (PDF).