It’s no surprise that President Donald Trump is trying to eviscerate the Obama-era Clean Energy Plan with a completely inadequate substitute that has far lower targets for reducing carbon emissions from the power sector. Trump has been trying to undo as much of his predecessor’s legacy as possible.
Trump’s plan is the worst of all worlds. It won’t cut carbon emissions sufficiently to slow the growing impact of climate change, but it will keep some coal plants operating longer. The plants won’t stay open long enough to actually reverse coal’s inevitable decline, but long enough to harm air quality around the nation.
The utility sector has clearly moved on from coal. The number of coal-fired plant retirements continues to grow, and no new coal-fired plants are coming online. Natural gas and renewables are more economical, flexible and far, far cleaner.
More and more states, like Washington, are passing laws to speed the transition completely away from carbon fuels.
With his plan, Trump might be able to tell his supporters in coal country that he has ended Obama’s nonexistent war on coal, but it won’t actually put coal miners back to work or do anything to help former miners.
What it will do is blunt the urgent action we need to be taking as a nation to address the global climate crisis.