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US Sen. Ed Markey slams Springfield Republican: Trump Administration’s ‘Affordable Clean Energy’ plan, touts effort to block rule

U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, spoke out Tuesday against the Trump Administration’s plan to replace Obama-era energy regulations with a rule that allows states to set their own guidelines to address emissions from coal-fired power plants.

The senator, who has been an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump’s approach to energy and environmental issues, joined other chamber Democrats to raising concerns about the possible impacts of the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Affordable Clean Energy rule.

Markey, who cast the administration’s proposal as the “Dirty Power Plan,” argued that the new rule will increase carbon pollution, lead to higher rates of asthma and other chronic health conditions and put solar and wind energy industry jobs at risk.

“This Dirty Power Plan is King Coal corporate welfare, propping open the doors to aging, polluting coal plants at the expense of the public’s health, our environment, and our clean energy future,” he said at a Capitol Hill news conference. “This Dirty Power Plan will mean increased carbon and other dangerous pollutants in the air. It will mean more emissions of harmful sulfur dioxide, mercury and arsenic that will harm the health of American families.”

The Democrat further argued that “coal cannot compete against wind, solar, renewables and natural gas in the free market,” and pledged to take action to block the EPA rule from taking effect.

“If the Trump administration continues down this coal-covered path and pushes forward with finalizing this rule, I intend to pursue using the legislative tools available to me in the Senate, including the Congressional Review Act, to undo this harmful plan,” he said.

Markey, who has used the CRA process in an effort to protect “net neutrality” regulations, was not the only member of Massachusetts’ congressional delegation to speak out against the proposed EPA rule.

U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Melrose, argued that rolling back the 2015 standards “in an outdated effort to revive coal will cost us clean water and air, and the viability of future generations.”

The EPA on Tuesday unveiled its proposed rule, which would “establish emission guidelines for states to develop plans to address greenhouse gas emissions from existing coal-fired power plants.”

Officials noted that the proposed rule would replace the 2015 Clean Power Plan.

The Trump administration has been critical of the Obama-era policy, which set specific emission targets for states based on power plant emissions, as “overly prescriptive.”

EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the new Affordable Clean Energy 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.”

“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,” he said in a statement.

According to EPA officials, the proposed rule would: Define the “best system of emission reduction” for existing power plants as on-site, heat-rate efficiency improvements; provide states a list of “candidate technologies” that can be used to set performance standards; update the New Source Review permitting program to encourage efficiency improvements; and align regulations to give states adequate time and flexibility to develop their plans.

The EPA will take comment on the proposal for 60 days following its publication in the Federal Register and hold a public hearing, the agency noted.

Announcement of the proposed rule came more than a year after Trump signed an “Energy Independence” executive order that directed the EPA to consider repealing former President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan.