The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed rolling back a regulation for coal plants that would allow new plants a lower standard on carbon emissions.
The EPA made the announcement Thursday, saying the Obama-era ruling required new coal plants to produce no more than 1,400 pounds of carbon per megawatt-hour. The change would allow new plants to produce up to 1,900 pounds of carbon per megawatt-hour.
Under the Obama regulation, plants were to cut their carbon emissions by using some natural gas, installing some carbon-capture equipment, or changing to more efficient technology that is not yet widely available.
EPA acting head Andrew Wheeler said Thursday at a news conference in Washington, “We are rescinding unfair burdens, leveling the playing field.”
Two new coal plants are planned in the United States over the next four years. President Donald Trump vowed during his campaign to shore up the coal industry, which has been facing competition in the past decade from cheaper and more plentiful natural gas.
Renewable resources like wind and solar power have also been growing in use, cutting into the energy market that coal once dominated.
Coal use in the United States has fallen 44 percent since its peak in 2007. The U.S. Energy Information Agency expects 2018 to mark the lowest level of coal consumption since 1979.
The rollback on regulations comes ahead of an international conference next week in Poland, where U.S. officials plan to host a panel on fossil fuel technology.