The United States Environmental Protection Administration is facing criticism after it released a draft rule that would have required the agency to reduce its use of coal-fired power plants by at least 25 percent by 2023.
The agency, under former President Donald Trump, made a series of controversial decisions over the past several years, including pulling out of the Paris climate accord.
The rule, which was published in late January, proposed a “zero emission pathway” for electricity produced from coal-burning power plants and called for “reimbursement of costs incurred for remediation, mitigation, and adaptation.”
But environmentalists, including the Sierra Club, said the rule’s proposal to use federal funds to cover costs for remedification was a blatant attempt to divert funds from protecting the environment.
The EPA released a statement saying the proposed rule was designed to address the impacts of climate change.
The draft rule also proposed to pay for up to $1 billion over a 10-year period to support states in implementing their emissions reduction goals.
In a statement to the Washington Post, the EPA’s acting administrator, John Hartung, said, “The proposed rule is designed to be flexible enough to meet the unique challenges that exist with respect to each individual state’s plan.
It will not be implemented without input from the states, local governments, utilities, industry and other stakeholders.
We have already been engaging with states and other interested parties in a number of forums and working to craft an approach that best fits their needs.”
The agency said in its statement that the rule is part of a larger effort to help states meet their climate goals.
“States and localities are working collaboratively to address this challenge, and this rule is a critical tool in achieving that goal,” the agency said.
The EPA’s proposed rule calls for an ambitious emissions reduction target that would require states to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions by more than 33 percent by 2030.
The plan would also require states with coal-heavy power plants to reduce emissions by 33 percent from 2030 to 2030.
The draft rule has sparked criticism from environmentalists and some Democrats, including former President Barack Obama, who questioned whether states should have to comply with a rule designed to protect public health and the environment, or whether states would be forced to build their own power plants.