Dems pledge to fight Trump power plan replacement

The Longview Power Plant in Maidsville, W.Va.,Thursday, July 6, 2017. Operators of the coal-burning plant, a new plant that began producing power in 2011, report higher efficiency and lower emissions than other U.S. coal-fired power plants. (Michael Virtanen/AP Photo)

The Longview Power Plant in Maidsville, W.Va.,Thursday, July 6, 2017. Operators of the coal-burning plant, a new plant that began producing power in 2011, report higher efficiency and lower emissions than other U.S. coal-fired power plants. (Michael Virtanen/AP Photo)

As the Trump administration unveiled its long expected proposal to replace the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, Democrats on the U.S. Senate environmental committee pledged to fight “tooth and nail” against the plan.

Democratic members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee claim 1,400 people will die every year if the Trump administration succeeds in scrapping the Obama Clean Power Plan and implementing what the White House calls the Affordable Clean Energy Rule. The new rule would reduce carbon emissions by 1.5 percent, according to the EPA. Obama’s plan aimed to reduce emissions 19 percent by 2030.

Delaware U.S. Sen. Tom Carper said the American people deserve better and vowed to fight the EPA’s new rule.

“We will fight tooth and nail to keep this senseless policy that would especially harm low-lying coastal states like our state and prevent them from moving forward. This administration must be held accountable for the actions it takes to reverse our progress on climate change,” Carper said.

The new rule would allow increased levels of soot and other emissions into the air.

Rob Altenburg with the environmental group PennFuture said it’s part of the administration’s broader assault on environmental regulations.

“What happens now under this proposal, states have wide latitude to create weaker standards than the federal standard or completely exempt their plants,” he said.

But acting EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler said the new rule “respects the rule of law” and that the Obama administration’s plan overstepped the EPA’s legal authority.

The Pennsylvania Coal Alliance, a trade group, praised the move, and said that as a net energy exporter, the new rule will help protect Pennsylvania jobs.

Because of its geography, Delaware has experienced increased levels of pollution from beyond the state’s borders. Despite a reduction in pollution from facilities within the state, Delaware still experiences diminished air quality. In June, Carper testified at a public hearing as the state petitioned the EPA to overturn its decision to deny Delaware’s request to force power plants in Pennsylvania and West Virginia to reduce emissions that dirty Delaware’s air.

“We don’t like it, we’re out of [air quality] compliance, [but] it ain’t our fault,” said Carper. “How would the folks in Pennsylvania like it if 94 percent of their pollution came from other states and they couldn’t get any relief? How would they like it?”

The state will keep pressing the EPA to hold upwind sources accountable for emissions that impact Delaware’s air quality.

“Repealing the clean power plan isn’t just a talking point, it will have serious consequences for the health of our public and for our planet,” Carper said. “It’s possible to have clean air, it’s also possible to have a growing economy. We want and need both.”

Carper said the Obama clean power plan would have accomplished both goals.

StateImpact’s Marie Cusick contributed to  this report.

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