EPA Admin Pruitt Says White House Will Withdraw From Clean Power Plan

Pauline Gross
October 10, 2017

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt announced Monday his agency's plans to withdraw the Clean Power Plan, the sweeping Obama-era rule regulating greenhouse gas emissions. The AP also reported that the EPA is expected to declare that the rule - a centerpiece of the Obama administration's environmental policies - exceeded federal law by setting emissions standards that power plants could not reasonably meet.

The regulation was one of former President Barack Obama's signature efforts to combat climate change and aimed to reduce carbon dioxide pollution levels 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 within the power industry.

On Thursday, Trump nominated former coal-industry lobbyist Andrew Wheeler to serve as Pruitt's top deputy at EPA - one of several recent political appointees at the agency with direct ties to the fossil fuel interests.

But Pruitt says Obama overstepped its legal authority when he tried to limit greenhouse gases. Utilities shelved coal projects in preparation of the rule, and coal-fired facilities were scheduled to shut down because it would be virtually impossible for them to comply with the emissions mandates and remain financially viable.

The EPA said it has not yet determined whether or when it will propose a new rule to regulate emissions from existing power plants.

But the plan met fierce pushback from the coal industry, which issued so many legal challenges that the Supreme Court suspended the policy past year.

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The EPA will propose repealing the Clean Power Plan and plans to solicit input on a rule to replace it, Reuters reports, citing an internal EPA document. "They are denying it just as they are denying the science".

"The Clean Power Plan represented an unlawful attempt to transform the nation's power grid. and raise costs on American consumers", said Hal Quinn, president and CEO of the National Mining Association. Critics have blasted the document that leaked last week as evidence that the Trump administration overplayed the costs of the Clean Power Plan while downplaying the health and environmental benefits (E&E News PM, Oct. 6). He and others who took legal action contend the agency doesn't have authority under the federal Clean Air Act to enact such sweeping changes to how power plants are run.

The new plan will save an estimated 240 million tons of annual coal production and safeguard more than 27,000 mining jobs and nearly 100,000 additional jobs throughout the supply chain, he said.

But according to U.S. media, a leaked draft of the repeal proposal disputes the health benefits touted by the previous administration.

"When you think about what that rule meant, that rule really was about picking winners and losers".

Other reports by GizPress

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