[Image by Alex Wong/Getty Images] The climate crisis is so bad that we can’t afford to wait any longer for action, as the Trump administration has announced plans to ease federal restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions.
President Donald Trump’s administration is pushing to relax existing emissions rules for the first time in nearly half a century, and the move will ease restrictions on a wide range of coal, oil, gas, and other fossil fuel industries.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is planning to allow states to waive emissions rules to create new industries.
States have been able to waive emission limits since the 1990s.
But a 2015 regulation that allowed states to do so expired on December 31, 2018, leaving many states struggling to comply.
The new rule, which takes effect in 2021, will allow states with an average annual emissions rate of over 5 percent to waive some emission limits, allowing them to emit up to 3 percent of their total emissions.
States can also waive emissions limits for any industry that is more than $100 billion in size and has less than 100 employees, or any industry with fewer than 500 employees, and have an annual annual emissions of less than 0.5 percent.
The rule will apply to new and existing coal, natural gas, oil and other industries, and will also apply to energy services, such as water, electric power and natural gas transmission.
The new rule also allows states to use a variety of exemptions, including those related to public health, education, the environment, or a host of other factors.
States that don’t meet these criteria will be allowed to continue to apply their current emission limits on an interim basis, meaning they can’t meet them until 2021, or until 2019.
States will also be able to use exemptions to allow coal and other emissions to remain under their existing limits until 2021 or 2019.
States with a total annual emissions that is less than 2 percent of the nation’s total emissions will still be allowed in the interim phase.
States will be able, however, to apply the interim emission reduction rules to all industries with an annual emissions greater than 1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), and all industries in the aggregate that exceed the aggregate emission limit.
These industries include coal, liquefied natural gas (LNG), coal-fired power plants, natural resource extraction, petroleum refining, and waste extraction.
States could also apply the new rule to all other energy-producing industries that meet the criteria.
The interim emission rules will apply only to the energy sector.
Existing rules for carbon dioxide and methane emissions from coal-burning power plants are set to expire by 2022.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said on Tuesday that the new rules will help states “stay ahead of the curve” on emissions, but will not eliminate them entirely.
“We’re taking the approach of having a set of rules that we’ve put in place for the last 50 years to get them to work, and we’re not going to just remove them all at once,” Pruitt said at the White House.
“That’s not going, that’s not fair.”
States that already comply with the current rules will be exempt from the new emission rules.
Pruitt has said that the federal government will help with the transition to a low-carbon economy by establishing a carbon tax that will help meet the nation the cost of compliance.
But the Trump Administration has signaled that it is going to continue the effort to lift emissions standards, with Pruitt saying last week that he expects states to be able “to stay ahead of [the curve].”
“It will be nice to have the flexibility to be on the cutting edge and be able say, ‘We know we can do this, and here’s what we’re going to do,'” Pruitt said.
“And that’s exactly what we want.”
A number of states are already rolling back emissions restrictions in anticipation of the new EPA rule, including Texas, Montana, Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado.
In the end, however.states will still have to comply with a set amount of emissions reductions, and many of the most vulnerable states, including the Great Plains and East Coast, are already dealing with high levels of carbon pollution.
In addition, some states have been slow to take advantage of the rule, and others have been more aggressive.
“I’m glad the EPA’s moving forward and I’m glad they’re allowing states to act, but I’m concerned that the states will be left in the dark on the future of the Paris agreement, which will be a huge win for fossil fuel industry,” Rachel Carson, a former US secretary of agriculture and the first woman to lead the US Department of Agriculture, told reporters on Tuesday.
“This is a very significant step forward for climate action and I look forward to seeing how it is implemented, what impact it has on our climate and the way our energy system works,” she added.
Environmentalists and business groups have expressed concerns that the rule will encourage more industries to take shortcuts to comply and increase greenhouse gas emissions