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Wheeler’s Misleading Carbon Emissions Math

During his confirmation hearing on Jan. 16, Andrew Wheeler, President Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, repeatedly used a misleading statistic to defend the EPA’s proposed replacement for the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan.

In describing the new proposal, known as the Affordable Clean Energy, or ACE, rule, Wheeler said the policy would lead to a 34 percent reduction in CO2 emissions from 2005 levels in 2030. That’s an accurate figure from the EPA, but it lacks context: Almost all of that reduction would happen anyway, not because of the EPA proposal.

ACE, which was announced in late August, targets individual coal-fired power plants and encourages what are called heat rate improvements, or HRIs, which increase efficiency so that more energy is produced from the same amount of coal. This approach to reducing CO2 emissions from power plants differs from the Clean Power Plan, or CPP, which emphasized shifting away from coal as an energy source and would have required states to meet specific emissions reductions using a variety of techniques.

In 2016, the Supreme Court issued a stay preventing the CPP from being implemented after 27 states sued to block the regulations.

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