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Trump Administration Set To Unveil Its Replacement For Obama's Clean Power Plan


The White House is set to unveil its replacement for the Clean Power Plan, an environmental regulation that President Obama once lauded as the single most important step the U.S. has ever taken to address climate change. The new proposal is expected to give states more say in how they'll cut carbon emissions from power plants. But there are concerns that it could lead to more greenhouse gas emissions. Here's NPR's Nathan Rott.

NATHAN ROTT, BYLINE: Power generation, the power sector, is the second-biggest contributor to climate change and greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., coming in just behind transportation, the cars that we all drive. The Clean Power Plan aimed to reduce those power plant emissions and jumpstart a transition to renewable energy sources. But it never went into effect.

More than two dozen states brought legal challenges against the Clean Power Plan, calling it a government overreach. And the Trump administration with its promise to end what it calls the war on coal has long targeted it as an environmental regulation that needs to go. The new proposal, which is expected to be released Tuesday, would do just that, reportedly replacing the Obama plan with one that would make states set their own targets to reduce carbon emissions.

GINA MCCARTHY: This is all about coal at all costs.

ROTT: The concern from environmentalists and Obama-era officials like former EPA chief Gina McCarthy is that it would allow some states to do little or nothing to address carbon pollution.

MCCARTHY: There's no other country in the world that's looking at coal as its future. They are all running to clean energy to save money, create jobs and save lives today while we protect our children's future.

ROTT: Replacing the Clean Power Plan, McCarthy says, sends a sign to the rest of the world that the U.S. is not a global leader in the fight against climate change or in new energy technology. Scott Segal, an attorney at Bracewell LLC who has represented a range of energy companies, disagrees.

SCOTT SEGAL: The fact of the matter is the U.S. is investing in renewable power. It is investing in battery storage. It is investing in improved energy efficiency. And those are real-world investments made without the heavy hand of government regulation.

ROTT: Segal points to the fact that carbon emissions from power plants have already been decreasing because of the energy market. Natural gas is cheaper than coal, and renewable energy is booming. That, Segal says, may have a bigger impact on greenhouse gas emissions than any regulation. The proposal will be up for public comment and is likely to face legal opposition of its own. Nathan Rott, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Nathan Rott is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk, where he focuses on environment issues and the American West.