Coal Age

JAN-FEB 2018

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Page 15 of 51

14 Janaury/February 2018 news continued During First Year, Trump Makes Good on Some Campaign Promises While on the campaign trail, President Donald Trump made promises to revive the coal industry and put miners back to work. In the election, he swept the coalfi elds, carrying 69% of the vote in West Virginia, 70% in Wyoming and 63% in Kentucky. Miners were hopeful. Now, a little more than a year after President Trump took offi ce, coal production is up slightly, by 8% in 2017, and Trump has fulfi lled some of his campaign promises. However, there has not been a complete turnaround. At the end of the 2017, 27 coal- fi red power plants were either scheduled to close or for conver- sion. The number of coal mining jobs is up a little, from 50,400 at the end of 2016 to 51,700 at the end of 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. During his campaign, Trump promised to eliminate regula- tions that impact growth in the coal industry. He promised to repeal the Stream Protection Rule. On Feb- ruary 16, he followed through on that promise by signing a bill to repeal the rule, which he called "another terrible job-killing rule." Those in the industry had argued that the rule, which was fi nalized on December 20, 2016, would have duplicated existing regulations that were already in place. The fi nal rule updated the 33-year-old regulations with stronger requirements for surface coal mining operations. On March 28, President Trump signed an executive order on energy independence that directed executive departments and agencies to review existing regulations that "potentially burden" the development or use of domestically produced energy re- sources. It also directed them to suspend, revise or rescind those regulations. It specifi cally targeted a review of former President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan (CPP) and either amend or re- move the Federal Land Coal Leasing Moratorium that was enact- ed in January 2016. "The action I am taking today will eliminate federal over- reach, restore economic freedom and allow our companies and workers to thrive, compete and succeed on a level playing fi eld for the fi rst time in a long time," Trump said at the signing. In late March, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke issued Secretarial Order 3348 revoking the January 16, 2016, order is- sued by then-Secretary Sally Jewell that placed a moratorium on federal coal leases. Order 3338 imposed a three-year moratori- um, with exceptions, on further coal lease sales pending comple- tion of a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) analyzing potential leasing and management reforms of the fed- eral coal program. In May, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administra- tor Scott Pruitt initiated a review of the CPP. Shortly after that, in October, Pruitt proposed a repeal of the rule. The CPP set strin- gent carbon emission rates for existing coal-fi red power plants, aiming for a reduction of 32% below 2005 levels by 2030. "The Obama administration pushed the bounds of their au- thority so far with the CPP that the Supreme Court issued a his- toric stay of the rule, preventing its devastating effects to be im- posed on the American people while the rule is being challenged in court," Pruitt said. "We are committed to righting the wrongs of the Obama administration by cleaning the regulatory slate. Any replacement rule will be done carefully, properly, and with humil- ity, by listening to all those affected by the rule." The CPP was put on hold by the Supreme Court in February 2016. On December 18, the EPA issued an Advance Notice of Pro- posed Rulemaking (ANPRM) to announce it would solicit public input as it considers the next regulatory steps to limit green- house gas (GHG) emissions from existing power plants. The EPA is soliciting information on systems of emission reduction that are applicable to or at a power plant, information on compliance measures, and information on state-planning requirements un- der Clean Air Act section 111(d). It planned to take comments for 60 days. Trump also promised to rescind the Waters of the U.S. Rule (Clean Water Rule) that clarifi es which waters and wetlands would fall under federal protection, revoke the stringent 2015 ozone standards, and streamline permitting for energy pro- jects. On June 27, the EPA, Department of Army, and Army Corps of Engineers announced they were proposing a rule to rescind the Clean Water Rule and re-codify the regulatory text that existed prior to the 2015 defi ning of the "waters of the United States" or WOTUS. "We are taking signifi cant action to return power to the states and provide regulatory certainty to our nation's farmers and busi- nesses," said Pruitt. "This is the fi rst step in the two-step process to redefi ne 'waters of the U.S.' and we are committed to moving through this re-evaluation to quickly provide regulatory certain- ty, in a way that is thoughtful, transparent and collaborative with other agencies and the public." Trump also promised that he would withdraw from the Par- is climate agreement, which Obama signed in September 2016. The agreement's goal was to strengthen the global response to the While there have been positives during Donald Trump's presidency, there have been a couple blows to the industry as well.

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