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— This is the script of CNBC's news report for China's CCTV on August 20, 2018, Monday.
This proposal heralds a change will come in US environmental protection policy, and it will affect current pattern in energy market to a large extend, so it draws attention from markets. First, let's brief the "CLEAN POWER PLAN" introduced by ex-president Obama, this plan required American power plants cut emissions by 32% till 2030 from 2005 levels. The US Supreme Court, however, ruled to postpone the CLEAN POWER PLAN in Feb 2016 due to "exceeding powers" dispute, so this plan had never been executed.
But in March last year, President Trump signed an act named Energy Independence, asking modify or abandon the CLEAN POWER PLAN launched by Obama. How the following-through has not been formally released. So the plan that has been published now hints details of environmental protection and energy policy carried out by Trump administration.
At present, some news indicates the new plan from EPA will empower states, enabling them to set CO2 emission standards of their own state, and driving them increase coal efficiency by using technology. That is to say, encouraging burning less coal but producing the same amount of electricity, by doing that to achieve the long-term effect of reducing coal emissions.
However, those actions are considered to boost US coal industry. So some public business industries, such as water supply and grid system, will save about $400 million cost compliance per year under this new policy. Meanwhile, that will affect more than 300 electricity plants in US, especially those archaic coal-burning electricity plants. In the background of slack environmental protection policy, companies are fueled to keep the operation of coal electricity plants, not to seek cleaner natural gas or recyclable energy program to replace the original one. So Trump's policy is more about to protect thousands of jobs in traditional industry, and prompt US energy independence.
In the past decade, with the decline in cost of wind energy and solar power, coal production in US dropped 31.5% but increased 7.8% when Trump took office last year. If current energy policy gets authorized, we will see a warm up in coal industry. But the controversial aspect is environment protection will not as good as before while boosting coal industry.
This chart shows a comparison of environmental protection results in Trump's proposal and Obama's CLEAN POWER PALN. And the pattern tells Obama's policy drives CO2 in US electricity department cut 19% till 2030 from 2005 level, while only 0.7-1.5% drop can be seen in Trump's.
In this week, EPA's new policy has a 60 days public comment period, and new measures are expected to be implemented by the end of the year. But some voices think results of new environmental protection measures will not come out in the near term, because each state will evaluate the plants one by one, and they will take 3 years to make a plan to improve operation efficiency. Later, EPA has one year to decide whether to approve or not, if rejected, EPA will take another year to implement Fed regulatory to that state, so analysis believes it is unsure when will the new policy influence market outright, and the worst situation is US will fully "digest" this policy till 2037. We will keep an eye on this issue.