Under the EPA’s new plan, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides that help form smog would be cut between one percent and two percent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. Under Obama, the agency projected its policy would reduce those pollutants by 24 percent and 22 percent, respectively, by the end of the next decade.
EPA did not respond to a request for comment, and the White House said it was looking into the matter.
As the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions, the United States has targeted the burning of fossil fuels that is driving climate change. The power sector ranks as the second-biggest contributor to the nation’s overall greenhouse gas emissions, according to EPA, accounting for 28.4 percent of the total in 2016. Transportation made up 28.5 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions that year.
While EPA projects that the U.S. power sector’s overall carbon output will decline over time due to market pressures and other factors after the new rule takes effect, the policy shift would make it increasingly difficult for America to meet the international climate goals it adopted under the previous administration.
Joseph Goffman, executive director of Harvard Law School’s Environmental Law Program andone of the architects of the Obama-era rule, said in a phone interview that the higher emissions that would result from the Trump proposal would damage the climate as well as public health.