Under the proposed Affordable Clean Energy Rule (ACE), coal-fired power plants could stay open if they make on-site efficiency upgrades that the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) claims would reduce emissions.
The new rule would also establish emission guidelines for states to use when developing plans to limit emissions at their coal plants.
It would replace former president Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), which set carbon dioxide limits for each state and encouraged utilities to shift to natural gas and renewable energy.
Whereas Obama’s CPP set a single federal standard for the US’s power plants, Trump’s ACE plan would allow states to set their own standards, provided they were consistent with federal guidelines, the EPA stated.
The agency also added the new law would "promote investments to make coal plants, cleaner, modern and more efficient", whereas its predecessor "promoted disinvestment in coal in favour of renewables and natural gas".
EPA analysis suggests under the most likely scenario created by proposed plan, increased rates of microscopic airborne particulate matter (PM2.5) would lead to between 470 and 1,400 premature deaths and illnesses annually by 2030.
President Trump is due to present the proposed law at a roundtable tonight (21 August) before a 60-day consultation period in which the EPA will accept comments on the rule change.