Trump’s EPA Finalizes Plan To Repeal And Replace Obama-Era Coal Plant Regulations

From The Daily Caller

Michael Bastasch | Energy Editor

  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized its plan to repeal and replace the Obama-era Clean Power Plan.
  • EPA replaced the Clean Power Plan with the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule, which requires coal plants to become more efficient.
  • “ACE is an important step towards realigning EPA actions so they are consistent with the rule of law,” a former EPA official said.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized its plan to repeal and replace an Obama-era regulation that critics said would cost thousands of coal industry jobs.

The Clean Power Plan never went into effect. The U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay on its implementation in 2016. EPA’s replacement plan, called the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule, asks states to improve coal plant efficiency.

“ACE is an important step towards realigning EPA actions so they are consistent with the rule of law and the original mission of the agency,” Mandy Gunasekara, a former Trump EPA official who worked on ACE, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“While it’s well known that the political team believes this to be the case, it’s not as well known that there are many career officials who are equally relieved with returning to EPA’s traditional approach of regulating under this part of the Clean Air Act,” Gunasekara said.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler testifies before a House Energy and Commerce Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee hearing

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler testifies before a House Energy and Commerce Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee hearing on the FY2020 EPA Budget on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., April 9, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

It’s a massive shift from the Obama administration’s effort to cut power plant greenhouse gas emissions and tackle climate change. The Obama EPA required states to make deep cuts to power sector emissions, including by using more natural gas and renewables.

“We think that goes beyond EPA’s authority and we cannot do that as a matter of law under the Clean Air Act,” a senior EPA official told reporters Wednesday.

A coalition of states, businesses and unions challenged the Clean Power Plan in federal court, calling it EPA overreach. President Donald Trump’s EPA agrees with that sentiment. The ACE rule takes a narrower approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. (RELATED: Iconic National Parks Are Falling Into Disrepair)

“The rule takes a sensible and legally sound approach to regulating carbon dioxide emissions from the nation’s coal fleet,” Michelle Bloodworth, president of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, said in a statement.

The Clean Power Plan was expected to force more coal power plants and mines to close down, costing thousands of jobs. Nearly 40% coal-fired power capacity has been retired or announced plans to retire, Bloodworth said.

Environmentalists oppose ACE, calling it a rollback of regulations meant to protect public health. Environmentalists may launch legal challenges to block ACE from going into effect.

“It’s time for this administration to listen to the voices of the future demanding action on this crisis and moving our country toward a 100 percent clean energy economy instead of siding with polluters and the voices of the past,” Christy Goldfuss, senior vice president for energy and environment at the Center for American Progress, said in a statement.

The U.S. flag flies on Campbell Transportation’s towboat M.K. McNally as it passes Mitchell Power Plant, a coal-fired power-plant operated by American Electric Power (AEP), on the Ohio River in Moundsville, West Virginia, U.S., Sept. 10, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

The U.S. flag flies on Campbell Transportation’s towboat M.K. McNally as it passes Mitchell Power Plant, a coal-fired power-plant operated by American Electric Power (AEP), on the Ohio River in Moundsville, West Virginia, U.S., Sept. 10, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

However, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler countered that narrative on Twitter Wednesday.

EPA’s position is that since the Supreme Court prevented the Clean Power Plan from going into effect, ACE can’t be rolled back. The EPA senior official said market forces are reducing emissions further than the Clean Power Plan would have.

“I don’t see this as a scaling back. I see this as a correction,” the senior official said. “Market forces alone are accomplishing historic change in the power sector.”

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61 thoughts on “Trump’s EPA Finalizes Plan To Repeal And Replace Obama-Era Coal Plant Regulations

  1. “Free at last, free at last….”
    The Trump administration is at last freeing the USA from the corrupt actions taken by the Obama regime EPA.

      • Yeah, until the “endangerment finding” is buried is a crossroads with a stake in it’s heart, we are not safe from attempts to eliminate “carbon pollution”.

        • This is 100% correct. Administratively, the tools and the regulation over CO2 remain.
          They chose to STILL have some regulations on CO2, just more limited.
          A crazy Bernie, Warren or Biden EPA would get the engine moving again to put the vice-grips on CO2 and revive CPP-type regulations.

          Removing the endangerment finding, which is obsolete, scientific junk, false and a danger ITSELF, is vital to keep CO2 regulations at bay. They would reverse that too but it buys you 3 more years.

      • Even better would be if Congress passes a bill to amend the Clean Air Act that permanently enjoins the EPA from regulating CO2 and water vapor emissions, and this bill includes a clause that automatically kills all existing CO2 and water vapor regulations, including the so-called “endangerment finding.”

        • And add a clause that regulates the bird-choppers just like any other business or person that kills endangered wildlife.

    • Exactly, the Endangerment Finding on CO2 must be executed and buried. All else will follow.

    • “It’s time for this administration to listen to the voices of the future demanding action on this crisis and moving our country toward a 100 percent clean energy economy instead of siding with polluters and the voices of the past,” Christy Goldfuss, senior vice president for energy and environment at the Center for American Progress, said in a statement.

      For the record Christy, you are full of Schmidt. Your beloved green energy is not green and produces little useful (dispatchable) energy. CO2 in the atmosphere is good , and more CO2 is better.

      Excerpt from my latest paper:

      12. Fossil fuels comprise fully 85% of global primary energy, unchanged in decades, and unlikely to change in future decades.

      The remaining 15% of global primary energy is almost all hydro and nuclear.

      Eliminate fossil fuels tomorrow and almost everyone in the developed world would be dead in about a month from starvation and exposure.

      Despite trillions of dollars in squandered subsidies, global green energy has increased from above 1% to below 2% is recent decades.

      Intermittent energy from wind and/or solar generation cannot supply the electric grid with reliable, uninterrupted power.

      “GREEN ENERGY” SCHEMES ARE NOT GREEN AND PRODUCE LITTLE USEFUL (DISPATCHABLE) ENERGY, because they require almost 100% conventional backup from fossil fuels, nuclear or hydro when the wind does not blow and the Sun does not shine.

      There is no widely-available, practical, cost-effective means of solving the fatal flaw of intermittency in grid-connected wind and solar power generation.

      Hydro backup and pumped storage are only available in a few locations. Other grid-storage systems are very costly, although costs are decreasing.

      To date, vital electric grids have been destabilized, electricity costs have increased greatly, and Excess Winter Deaths have increased due to grid-connected green energy schemes.
      Reference: “Statistical Review of World Energy”
      https://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/energy-economics/statistical-review-of-world-energy.html
      Reference: “Wind Report 2005” – note Figs. 6 & 7 re intermittency.
      http://www.wind-watch.org/documents/wp-content/uploads/eonwindreport2005.pdf

      15. Atmospheric CO2 is not alarmingly high, it is too low for optimal plant growth and alarmingly low for the survival of carbon-based terrestrial life. The real danger is not too much CO2 – it is CO2 starvation. Over geologic time, CO2 is ~permanently sequestered in carbonate rocks.

      Plants evolved at atmospheric CO2 concentrations of 2000 ppm and greater, and many grow best at about 1200 ppm CO2 – about 3 times current levels. That is why greenhouse operators pump 1000-1200 ppm CO2 into their greenhouses.

      Major food crops (except corn) use the C3 photosynthetic pathway, and die at about 150 ppm from CO2 starvation – that is just 30 ppm below the minimum levels during the last Ice Age, which ended just 10,000 years ago – “the blink of an eye” in geologic time. Earth came that close to a major extinction event.

      During one of the next Ice Ages, unless there is massive human intervention, atmospheric CO2 will decline to below 150 ppm and that will be the next major extinction event – not just for a few species but for ~all complex terrestrial carbon-based life forms.

      Reference: “(Plant) Food for Thought”
      (first posted in January 2009 on wattsupwiththat.com, published on icecap.us in December 2014)
      by Allan MacRae, Dec 18, 2014
      http://icecap.us/index.php/go/new-and-cool/plant_food_for_thought2/
      Reference: “Should We Celebrate Carbon Dioxide?”
      by Patrick Moore, October 15, 2015
      https://www.thegwpf.org/patrick-moore-should-we-celebrate-carbon-dioxide/

      Excerpts from
      “CO2, Global Warming, Climate and Energy”
      by Allan M.R. MacRae, B.A.Sc., M.Eng.

      pdf:
      https://thsresearch.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/co2-global-warming-climate-and-energy-june2019-final-.pdf
      Excel spreadsheet:
      https://thsresearch.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/co2-global-warming-climate-and-energy-june2019-final.xlsx

    • Michael
      June 19, 2019 at 11:34 pm

      That nasty CO2 is only invisible to you…Greta can see it!

      • go to 39.830967, -80.818553 in Google Earth/Maps and see that the “skinny chimney” really surrounds 2 even skinnier internal chimneys and the “What” you see is really condensed water vapor pouring from one of the smaller orifices that the ambient light cannot penetrate hence the darker appearance.
        That “What” is still just water vapor and invisible CO2

    • Umm…what does it look like to you? I ask because that is exactly what water vapor looks like exiting a chimney stack. If it dissipates within that short of a distance from the source it is mostly steam. Just because the lighting makes it look darker changes nothing. Clouds obscure light as well.
      If it were smoke from combustion the dark streak would stretch across the sky.
      Look at any pictures of actual fires. The smoke is visible for miles as a darkened streak in the sky. Steam, not at all.

      • The steam plume from the large cooler stack doesn’t have any right hand of darkness.

        It looks to me like the plume from the thin stack has been artificially darkened to make it look like smoke.

        This is a common tactic when some newspaper or NGO publishes a picture of coal plant water vapor plumes.

        Photoshopped examples at WUWT.

      • Kemaris

        “Its water vapor, presumably from a wet scrubber for SO2 and HCI control.”

        You would be correct. Without a “Brinks Box”, you see the discharge vapor. The Brinks Box will condense the vapor and return the water to the scrubber sump. Recycle!

    • Jeesh, we still have to deal w/the ignorance of some not even being able to identify condensed water vapor.

  2. “It’s time for this administration to listen to the voices of the future”

    How does one listen to, interpret, voices of the future?

    • “It’s time for this administration to listen to the voices of the future”

      Voices guaranteeing failure, poverty, death in the dark and cold by starvation illness and the cold by artificially restriting energy and forcing economic ruin on billions of innocents?
      Or voices of success and life?

      • But Biden, Gore, Ocasio, et al will still fly, still drive/ride in big gas guzzlers. It’s the pions who will have to cut back.

  3. Thanks to all who comment tirelessly here and especially those that sum up the cumulative evidence of the lack of scientific rigour in the calls for enormous wasted wealth. We go out and multiply. I am gradually persuading my grandsons although at school dissent is not tolerated.

  4. “It’s a massive shift from the Obama administration’s effort to cut power plant greenhouse gas emissions and tackle climate change. The Obama EPA required states to make deep cuts to power sector emissions, including by using more natural gas and renewables.”

    “EPA’s position is that since the Supreme Court prevented the Clean Power Plan from going into effect, ACE can’t be rolled back. The EPA senior official said market forces are reducing emissions further than the Clean Power Plan would have.”

    So the Trump EPA thinks emissions (ie coal) have been reduced more than Obama would have done?

    • You have to look at the big picture. Rare earth metals used for wind turbine are carelessnessly extracted in places like China and after processing, its wastes are deposited in toxic lakes in Mongolia. Solar panels whose life spans are short and can be easily damaged cannot be disposed of as conventional solid waste and must go to hazardous waste sites in the US…or worse just sent back to places like China where there are no environmental regulations …and if there are, they are not well followed.
      Coal on the other hand can be processed via pyrolysis to form a cheap and abundant supply of Hydrogen for clean fuel cells. Obama’s regs would of prevented lower emmision fuel cells from becoming more affordable.
      It’s a win-win.

    • Obama said he would heal the earth. He had 8 years, how did he do?

      This is a trick question because the earth is perfectly healthy. Nothing needs to be done to “fix” it.

    • Someone in Asia and India keeps buying Australia coal and if we had any spare perhaps we can ship some to USA :-).

    • Everyone, perhaps except you, Nick, thinks that. Apart from your “i.e., coal” diversion.

      It wasn’t coal.

      The reduced emissions are from the switch from coal to NG. Obama forbade fracking on public lands. David Middleton has been explicit on that, and that the fracked NG has come from private holdings.

      Following the druthers of Obama and his EPA, there would have been no such switch.

      So, neither Obama nor his EPA had any responsibility for the reduced emissions. Their opposition to fracking makes them liable to the charge of being opposed to the reduced emissions because the reduction was induced by way of fracked NG.

      • Correct — Obama, at least in this case, couldn’t keep up w/US private industry innovations. The switch to fracked NG came about despite Obummer’s efforts. Of course, he then lied & falsely took credit for it.

  5. And?

    coal plant has continued to close through the Trump presidency and there seems little chance this will slow that trend… it isn’t going to save jobs in coal.

    • That’s only because the anti-coal policies of the Obama reign were still in place. Rolling them back will take time, but it is in progress. It will also take time for the coal industry to recover, which is another reason why we need another 4 years of Trump. Yes, NG has made inroads into the coal industry, but part of that is due to an unhealthy government-led advantage given. Given a level playing field there would be a healthy competition between the two. The free market should decide what we use for energy, not the government.

      • This is correct. The economic driver was there due to cheap NatGas from fracking.
        Trump did 2 positive things – exports of NG and end CPP.
        Exports of NG gets another market for NG and helps the price, which helps energy complex as a whole.
        End CPP ends the forced closure of coal plants.
        New plants are NG anyway due to economic, so USA will continue to lower CO2 emissions, but the path is dictated by economics not Govt dictation, so much more efficient.

    • Once again, griff demonstrates how simple his mind is.
      There are a number of factors working against right now. Griff seems to believe that unless all of these factors are reversed, you haven’t done anything to help coal.

    • griff: Ever tried to make a battleship turn 180 degrees? Starboard or port, take your pick. EPA changed its policy today, may take more than a day to see any effect. US gov’t not as nimble and quick as your UK gov’t.

    • Our POTUS — every one of them — typically, is given way too much credit and or blame with respect to macro-economic matters; when, in fact, in the great majority of cases, macro market forces, much more so, greatly control overall economic behavior.

      To wit:

      USA coal production, consumption, jobs and etc were, and, are not so much impacted by govt edict — whether by legislation or capricious rules and regs enacted by unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats — than by the macro market forces brought to bear by free market advocacy, and, in particular, the massive application of horizontal drilling and hydro-fraccing technology.

      These market forces, by far, in comparison to all other artificial drivers, are driving down, and, will continue to drive down, into the foreseeable future, the domestic coal markets. Simply stated: there is just so much new gas reserves — not resources — that, under current conditions, coal is just not able to compete and survive.

      This is the primary reason why coal facilities are pulling back, if not, out and out, closing. It has very less and less — as more of the anti-liberty 0-bama admin policies are tossed on the waste heap — to do with the policies and actions of POTUS or other parts of our govt.

      In the meantime, although I am a strong POTUS Trump supporter, and, in view of these market forces, particularly in the coal sector, I am not sure — other than, perhaps, for political purposes — that POTUS Trump is doing the right thing by intervening in the particular ways such as he has. I see similar things, and have similar thoughts, regarding what POTUS Trump has also been doing in the nuclear and biofuels sectors; where basically, he is using fed govt funds — our tax dollars — to help “prop” them up.

      Why is he doing this? Is it some form of political payback? Is it because he sees that, during, at least, the past few decades successive admins have really screwed these guys and he’s trying to make things right? Maybe it is because, with respect to making America energy independent, he wants to give a boost to any and all sources of “American produced” energy?

      I just don’t have a high confidence answer to this overall policy situation.

      Note: In the meantime, very much I do support POTUS’s keen interest in eliminating any and all govt support from the otherwise uneconomic “renewables” of solar and wind. The renewables, as many of us believe, have been way over-hyped and way over-sold to the American public, and, for that matter, to humanity; they work ONLY when one taxpayer is willing to screw another. Alternatively, they need to be made to stand on their own and have that taxpayer-funded “faux-magic carpet” pulled out from beneath them.

      In the end, all things considered with all of our energy needs, capitalistic market forces, in a free, fair and open environment, and, yes, in most of our needs, need to be in practice and need to prevail.

      • “Note: In the meantime, very much I do support POTUS’s keen interest in eliminating any and all govt support from the otherwise uneconomic “renewables” of solar and wind.”

        POTUS has a lot on his plate. Give him time and I think he will do the conservative thing. Trump cannot act unilaterally in many areas, but I think his heart and mind are in the right place and he will do what needs to be done. I think we are safe in putting our faith in this man. He may be one of the least corrupt people to ever hold the presidency. He told ABC news the other day that he wasn’t afraid to have people see his financial statements. There’s probably a reason for that. Trump may me honest as the day is long at least as far as his finances. I suppose we will find out eventually given that the Democrats have turned the House of Representatives into a giant fishing expedition to find dirt on Trump. Abuse of power by the Democrats is what it really is.

        Meanwhile, the Demcrats continue to undermine the president, even at the brink of war. I wonder if John Kerry’s advising the Iranians had anything to do with the Iranians recent reckless actions in shooting down our very expensive drone? We get attacked and Nancy Pelosi says we should de-escalate the situation. Nancy, we were not the ones who escalated the situation. Perhaps you should direct your words to the Mad Mullahs of Iran. Oh, wait, you are, aren’t you.

        Appeasement doesn’t work with murderous dictators, Nancy. They only understand force and threats to themselves. They love it when American appeasers show their fear of dictators publicly. It makes their job much easier and the president’s much harder.

        The Iranians might not be so bold if they thought the entire U.S. was behind Trump with regard to Iranian attacks. Unity might save some innocent lives by restraining reckless dictators. But we will get just the oppostite from the Democrats. They will try to weaken the American position by undermining Trump and will demonstrate in every way why they are unfit to govern the United States in any capacity as they are clueless about dealing with dictators, shorsighted, and only interested in their own power. As far as they are concerned, the rest of the world can go to hell as long as it benefits them.

        Democrat appeasers are unfit to govern. Every time they come to power lots of innocent people die. The U.S. won the Vietnam war; the Democrat appeasers threw it away. The U.S. won the Iraq war. The Democrat appeasers threw it away. Millons of innocent people were killed and/or displaced because of the actions and inactions of Democrat appeasers. They don’t know what they are doing and their fears of murderous dictators paralyze them into inaction.

    • grifter, that’s fine for areas that have available NG & associated infrastructure. For other developing areas world-wide that don’t, coal plants are being built. The US will be ready & able to export coal to them if they want it.

  6. It’s progress I suppose, though I dislike the use of the word “Clean” which is Greenspeak for anti-“carbon”. It should just be the Affordable and Reliable Energy rule.

  7. Modern 500 MW, ultra super critical coal plants, in base loaded mode, have efficiencies of about 44%, even with energy using flue gas cleaning systems. It would produce electricity at about 5c/kWh.

    They emit far less CO2/kWh than a 25 MW wood chip fired plant which is at most 25% efficient. One would need 44/25 x 25 of such plants, spread over a large FORESTED area to equal the 500 MW. They would produce electricity at 9 to 10 c/ kWh.

    The Obama folks did not have a clue about energy.

    Wind electricity is only there in accordance with randomness the wind. During 1 to 7 day wind lulls, yes they do occur year round, it would be near zero!!!!!.

    Solar electricity IS RELIABLY near zero or zero for 70 hours of the year!!!!!!

    Any rational person would quickly come to the conclusion these two are just helper electricity, except solar is doing most of the helping at midday when demand is low and RELIABLY goes to sleep late afternoon/early evenings, when demand is high, not to reappear for work until about mid morning the next day!!!!!!

    • Someone here made a convincing argument that coal is perhaps the least susceptible to supply disruption from terrorist attack, e.g. on natural gas pipelines. The argument being that weeks of fuel is stored at coal power plants.

      • I read a book by Margret Thatcher regarding her time as PM. One chapter dealt with the contract negotiations with the coal miners. She stockpiled MONTHS worth of coal at the generating plants to insulate the country from the disruption caused by a strike. It was a successful strategy.

        • Bryan,
          In the US northeast panels are covered with snow for several days after a snowfall

          Shearer and Drake,
          It is standard procedure for large base loaded coal plants to have a 180 day minimum coal supply stored on site.
          I know this because I have designed several such 1200 MW plants several decades ago. It was in the specifications.

    • solar is zero to near zero for 14 – 16 hours per day. not sure where your 70 hours per year comes from.
      solar is at its maximum potential for 3.5 – 4 hours per day with a couple hour ramp up and a couple hour let down. 16 hours per day is more like 5900 hours per 8760 hour year.

    • Wood plants emit vastly LESS CO2 than wood chip plants.

      A 500 MW ultra super critical coal plant, at a CF of 0.9, would produce 3,944,700 MWh/y, and require 8,865,227 MWh/y of coal at 44% efficiency, which would emit 210 lb CO2/million Btu.

      TWENTY 25 MW wood plants, each requiring a FOREST circle of 100-mile in diameter, at a CF of 0.9, would produce the same electricity, which would require 15,778,800 MWh/y of wood chips, which would emit 238.82 lb CO2/million Btu, i.e., almost 2.5 times the CO2 of a coal plant.

      The EPA calculated CO2 emissions of dry trunk wood at (1000000/8600) x 0.50, C fraction x 44/12, mol. wt. ratio = 213.18 lb/million Btu.

      The CO2 emissions of dry wood chips are (1000000/6909 x 0.45, C fraction x 44/12, mol. wt. ratio) = 238.82 lb/million Btu
      https://phyllis.nl/Biomass/View/2718

      NOTE: The 44/12 molecular weight ratio is calculated as follows:

      1 ton of green wood – 0.45 ton, water fraction = 0.55 ton of dry wood
      C/ton of green wood = 0.55 ton of dry wood x 0.5, carbon fraction = 0.275 ton
      The combustion equation is C + O2 –> CO2.
      Molecular weight of CO2 = 12 lb C + 32 lb O2 = 44 lb, or 1 ton C + 32/12 ton O2 = 44/12 ton CO2
      https://mha-net.org/docs/v8n2/docs/WDBASICS.pdf

      • Willem I don’t understand. Why would anyone in their right mind burn wood to generate electricity when there is coal? Also, why is the amount of carbon dioxide from burning coal or wood important?

    • Willeim sez:
      Solar electricity IS RELIABLY near zero or zero for 70 5100+ hours of the year!!!!!!

      Fixed it.

    • Correction:
      Solar is zero or near zero 70% of the hours of the year.
      I had forgotten the % sign.
      Sorry for any confusion.

  8. The winning, it just keeps coming! Last week here in western PA saw two trains loaded with coal on their way to make America great. It was beautiful!

  9. And a new coal mine has been approved in the UK, a couple years after the last mine closed.

  10. The Supreme Court already issued an injunction against the Clean Power Plan, as it is illegal under the Clean Air Act. To justify the law, the EPA was claiming that there were two versions of the Clean Air Act that passed into law, and EPA can pick and choose which parts it likes from each version.

  11. With the absence of any real evidence that CO2 is a major threat, this is good news. Maybe some sanity will rear it’s head?

  12. I am not a scientist, so I do not know for sure if to much CO2 is harmful to the environment and our oceans.

    Check this out https://youtu.be/RQRQ7S92_lo

    We started to develop this in 2009 or 2010 when we realized what the administration was trying to do to the coal mining industry.
    We now want those CO2 emissions from the power plants exhaust because we can turn it into good paying full time jobs and money.
    If any of you have a connection to President Trump’s Administration, please forward this on to them. With this CCU System aoc’s green deal plan is dead in the water. We get to keep our cars and trucks and airplanes and beef.
    America has many centuries of good quality coal available. Lets be energy wise and use our energy resources where it will give us the most 24/7, for the amount we have. The EIA says we have limited natural gas available.

  13. ‘finalized its plan to repeal and replace the Obama-era Clean Power Plan.’

    Stupid Republicans. Repeal a bad law. Period.

    “Replace” sounds like Newt Gingrich saying Republicans can implement fascism much better than Democrats.

    Frankly, “repeal and replace” doesn’t sound like Trump.

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