US President Barack Obama is reportedly planning to announce fresh carbon emissions cuts next week, which will allow states to use cap-and-trade regulations to force the coal industry pay for the pollution it generates.
The highly anticipated plan, reports the New York Times, will be the first imposed limits on power plant emissions in the history of the US. It is expected to cut coal plant emanations between 20% and 30%.
They will also be the most aggressive part of Obama’s climate change policy, and a key test to see whether the president and his Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are able to help curbing greenhouse gas emissions without hurting the country’s economy.
The EPA, reports The Wall Street Journal, is expected to finalize the directive by mid-2015 and present a plan to implement the rule by end of the year.
Some states, such as California, already have cap-and-trade schemes. There is also an ongoing regional plan in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States of the country. However, the upcoming announcement will open up the strategy to all states.
According to Los Angeles Times, the 3,000-page rule is more than likely to trigger lawsuits and claims of job losses. It will also prompt Obama critics too claim he has stepped up his dubbed “war on coal.”
Experts believe that West Virginia will be the hardest hit by the new measures. The state, one of the US’s three poorest by household income, sits at the heart of coal country. Official figures also show the state gets 95% of its power from the fossil fuel.
According to environmental group Sierra Club, 165 of the US’s 600 coal plants are already set to be closed in the next few years as they cannot comply with toxic metal regulations or beat natural gas, which burns more cleanly.