The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to cut regulations under the leadership of Andrew Wheeler after former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned amid growing controversy.
An Obama-era rule that aimed to cut greenhouse gas emissions may now be turned on its head. The Associated Press reported that the EPA turned in a new rule to the White House on Tuesday that will favor coal companies.
President Donald Trump has expressed his support for expanding the coal industry in the past, and now the EPA’s acting administrator, Wheeler, is likely to continue that support, especially considering his background as a lobbyist for the coal industry.
Former EPA assistant administrator Jeff Holmstead told the AP that the new rule is likely to focus on efficiency of individual power plants and dropping industrywide mandates created in the Obama era, therefore removing focus from climate emissions.
Obama put the U.S. on a path to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by the year 2030, focusing especially on cutting emissions from coal-powered plants. According to the AP, the carbon cuts were expected to improve public health by eliminating 90,000 cases of asthma attacks and 3,600 related premature deaths per year.
Trump’s turn away from environmental regulations comes at a time where much of the developed world is pushing forward to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Trump has been backpedaling since he announced the U.S. would break from the Paris agreement back in 2017, making the U.S. the only country to do so.
The EPA said it would not comment on the new rule until the White House reviews it fully.
The announcement of the rule comes as the U.S. and much of the Northern Hemisphere is experiencing one of its worst heat waves in years. According to NPR, Canada reported 70 heat-related deaths this year. This week’s heat wave in Los Angeles left 1,600 people without power, as reported by CNN.
The Guardian reported the United Kingdom is experiencing its longest heat wave in years, and it is expected to continue.