Trump Administration’s Clean Energy Plan May Lead to More Air Pollution, Carbon Emissions

 Smokestacks in a grey landscape

January 15, 2019

A new study published in Environmental Research Letters, co-authored by Syracuse University’s Professor Charles T. Driscoll, predicts that the Trump administration’s Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule, which aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions at coal-fired power plants, will lead to an increase in emissions at 28 percent of coal plants and 18 states, plus Washington, DC. The increase is due to a phenomenon called “emissions rebound,” raising questions about the rule’s standing under the Clean Air Act. Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions are also projected to increase in as many as 20 states plus DC under ACE.

Driscoll says, “The EPA’s proposed ACE rule does little to control carbon dioxide emissions from electric utilities nationally and could lead to increased emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants such and sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides in some states. At a time when many scientists are pointing to the need to accelerate greenhouse gas reductions, ACE would do little to mitigate climate change or the adverse health effects of fossil fuel emissions.”

ACE is the proposed replacement for the Clean Power Plan (CPP). ACE represents a narrow, source-based approach to carbon standards that focuses on efficiency improvements at individual power plants. The CPP represents a flexible, systems-based approach that provides more avenues for plants to achieve necessary emissions reductions including energy efficiency, renewable energy, fuel switching, and emissions trading.

A fact sheet outlines the study and key findings as well as state impacts, the full list of authors, public comments on ACE by the authors to EPA. The media contact for the research group is Liz Purchia ([email protected], 315-794-6943). The media contacts for Professor Charles T. Driscoll are Daryl Lovell ([email protected]315-443-1184) and Matt Wheeler ([email protected]315-443-4777).