Trump’s Biggest Move to End the ‘War on Coal’ Won’t Rescue the Industry – by Jennifer A Dlouhy (Bloomberg News – June 19, 2019)

President Donald Trump is scaling back sweeping Obama-era curbs on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants burning coal, his biggest step yet to fulfill his campaign promise to stop a “war” on the fossil fuel.

Yet the Environmental Protection Agency’s rewrite of the Clean Power Plan, unveiled Wednesday in Washington, will do little to halt a nationwide shift away from coal and toward cheaper electricity generated by the wind, the sun and natural gas.

The U.S. is experiencing “a wave of coal retirements — and we don’t think we’re near the end of it,” said Nicholas Steckler, head of U.S. power for BloombergNEF. “Coal is inferior to natural gas in many ways today — it’s less flexible, it’s higher cost, even its fuel is generally more expensive, and, of course, it’s dirty. It has so many reasons stacked against it.”

The EPA’s final “Affordable Clean Energy” rule focuses cutting carbon dioxide emissions by encouraging efficiency upgrades at individual power plants, replacing an Obama-era approach of driving wholesale changes to the power sector.

The final rule empowers states to develop performance standards for plants based on assumptions about the kind of efficiency gains — known as heat-rate improvements — that can be eked out by plugging duct leaks, installing advanced soot blowers and making other upgrades at the sites.

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