Revised Regulations Governing Coal-Burning Power Plants Released to Applause from Administration

Aug 24, 2018

The Trump Administration recently released its proposed new set of pollution rules for coal-burning power plants. The new regulations, titled the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule would replace the Obama-era’s Clean Power Plan.

“The ACE Rule would restore the rule of law and empower states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide modern, reliable, and affordable energy for all Americans,” said Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler in a press release. “Today’s proposal provides the states and regulated community the certainty they need to continue environmental progress while fulfilling President Trump’s goal of energy dominance.”

ASME Capitol Update has followed the path of this legislation, noting back in May that despite the uncontroversial nature of the bill, it appeared to have stalled in Congress after being unanimously approved by the House in 2018. However, last month the Senate voted to pass the legislation to applause from many in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education community. A further indication of the support for this legislation on Capitol Hill was the House Appropriations Committee’s FY19 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) bill in which it gave the Department of Education a $115 million increase for career, technical, and adult education programs. This bump brought funding for career and technical education programs (CTE) up to $1.9 billion for FY19.

The proposed new regulations, issued by the EPA, will work to combat pollution and the release of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through 4 key actions:

  • ACE defines the “best system of emission reduction” (BSER) for existing power plants as on-site, heat-rate efficiency improvements;
  • ACE provides states with a list of “candidate technologies” that can be used to establish standards of performance and be incorporated into their state plans;
  • ACE updates the New Source Review (NSR) permitting program to further encourage efficiency improvements at existing power plants; and
  • ACE aligns regulations under CAA section 111(d) to give states adequate time and flexibility to develop their state plans.

The proposal will be placed in the Federal Register (FR). Once the notice is in the FR, the EPA will take comments for 60 days. A public hearing will also be held on the proposal.

For a fact sheet on the proposal, as well as a view of the pre-FR notice, click here: https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-proposes-affordable-clean-energy-ace-rule