In a move that quickly generated controversy, the EPA yesterday unveiled a replacement for the Clean Power Plan that it proposed repealing in October 2017 because it “exceeded EPA’s authority.”

In its place, the agency rolled out what it’s calling the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule which would establish emission guidelines for states to develop plans to address greenhouse gas emissions from existing coal-fired power plants.

The Clean Power Plan, a product of the Obama administration,was stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court and has never gone into effect.

About the ACE

The ACE rule has several components: a determination of the best system of emission reduction for greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants, a list of “candidate technologies” states can use when developing their plans, a new preliminary applicability test for determining whether a physical or operational change made to a power plant may be a “major modification” triggering New Source Review, and new implementing regulations for emission guidelines under Clean Air Act section 111(d).

"Climate disaster"

Environmental groups were among those expressing opposition to the ACE rule. The Natural Resources Defense Council's president, Rhea Suh, called it "a recipe for climate disaster." Suh said in a statement; "The world's on fire and the Trump administration wants to make it worse."

Scientific American says the ACE represents a setback for U.S. efforts to address climate change, and that removing a government cap  on power plant emissions may stop the emissions reductions that have occurred in recent years.

A Los Angeles Times editorial called ACE “another step down the road to air more laden with carbon, particulates and smog-breeding pollutants after decades of progress.”

Lower power costs

However, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), said the Clean Power Plan would have cost Americans jobs and resulted in higher electricity  costs while having “no meaningful effect on global emissions.”

Click here for the EPA’s overview of the proposed ACE rule