Catholic groups voiced dismay and disagreement with a proposed rule from the Trump administration to weaken regulations on carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants that in the process could result in 1,400 more premature deaths annually.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Aug. 21 unveiled the new rule, called the Affordable Clean Energy rule. If adopted, it would replace the Clean Power Plan — the 2015 Obama-era rule that formed the cornerstone of the previous president's climate change policy and sought to limit carbon dioxide emissions from coal- and gas-fired power plants by 32 percent compared to 2005 levels by 2030.
By contrast, the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule would limit carbon emissions by 0.7 percent to 1.5 percent over the same time frame.
Carbon pollution is the primary driver of climate change, with the power sector long being the largest source of such emissions in the country but recently surpassed by transportation; earlier this month, the EPA also moved to roll back fuel efficiency standards for vehicles.
The EPA said that the Clean Power Plan, issued by the agency under President Barack Obama but which never went into effect, exceeded its regulatory authority under the Clean Air Act by pursuing measures outside of power plants and attempting to prioritize renewable energy sources over fossil fuels.