A US court tossed out one of President Donald Trump’s signature efforts to roll back environmental regulations just one day before he leaves office, scrapping a rule meant to prop up the ailing coal industry. The Affordable Clean Energy rule covering emissions from the power industry was introduced in 2019 to replace stricter curbs adopted under the administration of Barack Obama.

On Tuesday, federal judges vacated the rule and sent it back to the US Environmental Protection Agency for reconsideration, giving the incoming Biden administration a clean slate to reinvent the policy. Leadership at EPA will change after Wednesday’s inauguration of president-elect Joe Biden, who has promised to put the US on course to eliminate carbon emissions from the power sector in less than 15 years.

Mr Trump, by contrast, had campaigned in 2016 on a pledge to revive US coal mining, speaking at rallies before a backdrop of helmeted supporters where signs read “Trump Digs Coal”.

Without ACE in place, the Biden administration can immediately start the work of designing a new approach — Hana Vizcarra, Harvard University Environmental and Energy Law Program

The ACE rule was designed to ease constraints on the power industry while still complying with legal requirements under the federal Clean Air Act. It pushed individual coal-fired power plants to become more efficient, with the potential consequence of having them run longer and more often, in turn bolstering demand for coal.