The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has said that a new rule it will issue in April will require states to phase out coal-fired power plants by 2030.
That’s a dramatic departure from the EPA’s previous position, which said states should be allowed to continue using coal-burning power plants until the end of the century.
Coal is the fuel of choice in the United States, the most energy-intensive source of electricity, and the EPA says the rule would require coal plants to be phased out by 2025.
That timeline has drawn criticism from environmental groups, who say that coal plants are contributing to climate change.
But critics of the rule say that the EPA is using its authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate a single industry while ignoring other industries and their carbon emissions.
The new rule is not expected to come into effect until next year.
The EPA has also put out a new draft regulation that would require states that are planning to phase-out coal-powered plants to consider how that would affect their air quality, the Associated Press reported.
The draft regulation has not been finalized, but the AP reported that the draft was “likely to include a number of exemptions, including the ability to use existing or existing-used coal as a ‘bridge’ to alternative fuels.”
It is unclear what impact the draft rule will have on existing coal plants.
The Associated Press added that the rule could cause coal plants in the West to be shut down for months, potentially causing respiratory and health issues for those living nearby.
The coal industry’s top environmental official, John Hoeven, told the AP that coal plant closures would likely not have a significant effect on the country’s carbon dioxide emissions, which are already at historic lows.
In its statement, the EPA said that it will “continue to work with states to address coal-related air quality concerns, particularly in the eastern U.s. where coal-dependent plants operate.”
The EPA also said it will conduct additional studies to determine the impact of the coal rule on the coal industry, and it said it plans to conduct further reviews of the proposed rule.