The Latest: EPA chief eases rules on coal-fired power plants

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Sonny Perdue, Andrew Wheeler

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, left, and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler applaud as they listen to President Donald Trump speak at Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Tuesday, June 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on an environmental rule covering coal-fired power plants (all times local):

6:10 p.m.

The Trump administration has ordered a sweeping about-face on Obama-era efforts to fight climate change, easing restrictions on coal-fired power plants.

Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler signed a measure Wednesday that scraps one of President Barack Obama’s key initiatives to rein in fossil fuel emissions. The replacement rule gives states more leeway in deciding whether to require plants to make limited efficiency upgrades.

Wheeler says he expects more coal plants to open as a result. But one state, New York, says it will go to court to challenge the action, and more lawsuits are likely.

The EPA move comes despite the agency’s own analysis that it would result in the deaths of an extra 300 to 1,500 people each year by 2030, owing to additional air pollution.

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11:50 a.m.

The Trump administration expects new coal-fired power plants to open as a result of a major new regulatory change.

Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler says he expects that increase in coal plants as a result of the repeal of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan. Wheeler spoke to reporters after signing the final version of the repeal.

The Obama-era plan sought to fight climate change by prodding coal-fired power plants out of the nation’s electrical grid.

Wheeler says the administration’s repeal will lead investors to put money into more coal plants.

U.S. coal-plant closings have reached near record numbers in recent years owing to competition from cheaper natural gas and renewable energy.

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11:30 a.m.

New York’s attorney general says the state will sue to block the Trump administration’s rollback of an Obama-era rule designed to wean the nation’s electrical grid off coal-fired power plants and their climate-damaging pollution.

Attorney General Letitia James announced the state’s intentions on Twitter shortly after the Environmental Protection Agency replaced the rule with a less ambitious one. She makes reference to the administration’s “#DirtyPower rule.”

She tweets that it’s “another prime example of this administration’s attempt to rollback critical regulations that will have devastating impacts on both the safety & health of our nation.”

The Trump administration says the Obama administration overstepped its legal authority in approving the Clean Power Plan. EPA chief Andrew Wheeler says coal is essential to the nation’s power grid.

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11:05 a.m.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the Trump administration’s rollback of a rule targeting coal-fired power plants is “a stunning giveaway to big polluters.”

Pelosi says in a statement that climate change is “the existential threat of our time” and that the administration is ignoring scientific studies about climate change and yielding to special interests.

Pelosi is reacting to Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler’s scrapping of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which sought to reduce the country’s reliance on coal and move to renewable energy sources. Wheeler replaced it with a less ambitious rule.

The administration argues that Obama’s EPA overstepped its legal authority in approving the Clean Power Plant rule.

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10:35 a.m.

The Trump administration has rolled back a landmark Obama-era effort targeting coal-fired power plants and their climate-damaging pollution.

It’s replacing the Obama rule with a less ambitious one that gives states more discretion in regulating those power plants.

Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler says it’s a sign that “fossil fuels will continue to be an important part of the mix” in the U.S. energy supply.

President Donald Trump campaigned partly on a pledge to bring back the U.S. coal industry, which has been hit hard by competition from cheaper natural gas and renewable energy.

The rule will go into effect shortly after publication in the Federal Register. Environmental groups pledge court challenges.

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12:25 a.m.

The Trump administration is close to completing one of its biggest rollbacks of environmental rules.

Lawmakers, environmentalists and others are readying for an announcement about a replacement for an Obama-era regulation that sought to limit coal-fired plants in the nation’s electrical grid.

The Clean Power Plan was one of President Barack Obama’s signature efforts to curb climate-changing emissions.

Critics of the Obama administration say it overstepped its legal authority in issuing the power plant rule. Those opposing the rollback say it will worsen climate change and increase deaths from coal-plant pollution.

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