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New US climate rules for pollution cuts ‘probably terminal’ for coal-fired plants



New climate rules imposed by Joe Biden’s administration requiring huge cuts in carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants will accelerate the decline of an industry that until recently provided most of America’s power, experts say, potentially even dealing a death blow to coal in the US.


New rule compels US coal-fired power plants to capture emissions – or shut down

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Coal, once the backbone of the US economy and feted by Donald Trump as he rose to the presidency, is being driven out of the power sector by cheaper renewables and gas and now faces an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation, finalized last week, that demands all coal plants not retiring by 2039 to slash their carbon emissions 90% within the coming decade.


The situation is now “probably terminal” for most of the several hundred US coal plants not already earmarked for closure, according to Seth Feaster, a coal industry analyst at the Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis, who said “just a handful of plants” will likely survive beyond the end of the 2030s.


“Not many plants will be able to cut their pollution that much and fewer still will survive the energy transition past 2040,” Feaster said. “You’ll probably be able to count them on one hand.


“The decline has been unrelenting and now it’s a question of when coal ends, not if. The US hasn’t had a national climate policy, unlike in Europe, and yet we are likely to get rid of coal much faster than in Europe.”


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