President Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt on Tuesday will formally propose repealing President Obama’s landmark anti-pollution rule for power plants, a key part of the U.S. commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris climate accord.
“The Clean Power Plan, it wasn’t about regulating to make things regular,” Pruitt said Monday at a pro-coal event with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). “It was truly about regulating to pick winners and losers.”
The Obama-era rule aimed at cutting emissions from the electricity sector by 32 percent by 2030.
Trump’s EPA, however, argues that the agency under Obama overstepped its legal authority.
“It’s Congress that passes legislation that gives us direction, that gives us our orders as far as how we administer the statute,” Pruitt said Monday. “The last administration simply made it up.”
The Hill added:
The EPA will also argue that the Obama policy will prove as little as $500 million in economic benefits through 2030 compared to the $20 billion claimed by the previous administration — at a cost to the U.S. economy of $55.5 billion.
The EPA will open the door to replacing the rule with a weaker, more industry-friendly standard to limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, though it did not promise to pursue a new regulation.
In March, Trump signed an executive order calling on the EPA to repeal the rule, saying he was “putting an end to the war on coal.”
Trump said then that repealing the rule is “an historic step to lift the restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion and to cancel job-killing regulations.”
“If it had gone into effect, the ‘Clean Power’ Plan rule to limit greenhouse gas emissions from coal and natural gas power plants would have been one of the most expensive regulations ever imposed, causing electric rates for consumers to go up and threatening the reliability of the electric grid,” Myron Ebell, head of the energy and environment program at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said in a statement.
But the rule’s proponents argue that the economic and health benefits of a cleaner electricity sector will outweigh the costs of coal, creating a net economic benefit of $26 billion to $45 billion, while reducing up to 3,600 pollution-related deaths every year, according to Obama’s EPA.
They also contend that the EPA has a legal responsibility to regulate the climate change-causing emissions of greenhouse gases.
“If Administrator Pruitt plans to repeal the Clean Power Plan, that would be a complete abdication of EPA’s legal responsibility to protect our children’s lungs from dangerous smokestack pollution and their homes from climate-destabilizing extreme weather,” Environmental Defense Fund president Fred Krupp said.
Gina McCarthy, the EPA administrator under Obama who formalized and released the Clean Power Plan, said the Trump administration “has no intention of following the law.”
She added, “They are denying it just as they are denying the science. They’re using stall tactics to defer action, ignoring the courts and the demands of the American people.”