September 28, 2021

EPA to repeal landmark Obama climate rule

The Trump administration on Tuesday will formally propose repealing Barack Obama’s landmark climate change rule for power plants, a key part of the U.S. commitment to reduce emissions under the Paris accord.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt told a Kentucky audience on Monday that he will sign paperwork on Tuesday to repeal the rule, which he argued exceeded the previous administration’s authority and treated coal communities unfairly.

“The Clean Power Plan, it wasn’t about regulating to make things regular,” Pruitt said Monday at an event with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), to raucous applause. “It was truly about regulating to pick winners and losers.”

Pruitt gave his remarks at a Hazard, Ky., mining and construction equipment business, in the heart of Eastern Kentucky’s hard-hit coal country.

The Obama rule was expected to significantly hurt the coal industry since coal-fired power plants are the biggest carbon emitters. But Pruitt’s announcement was also a rebuke of what he and Republicans see as Obama’s “war on coal.” He and other Republicans are that numerous regulations that have hurt the coal industry, which was already reeling from competition from cheap natural gas.

The EPA’s announcement is the first major step toward fulfilling a key campaign promise Trump made to repeal the climate rule that he’s called “stupid” and “job-killing.”

Environmentalist and Democrats have pledged to pull out all the steps to save the Clean Power Plan, which they say is the most significant U.S. policy to reduce carbon emissions that has ever been put into place.

The rule was the centerpiece of Obama’s strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and show the rest of the world that the U.S., a top polluter, is committed to climate action. It aims to cut emissions from the electricity sector by 32 percent by 2030.

Trump’s EPA argues that the agency overstepped, arguing it can only regulate pollution from individual plants and not sector-wide.

“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 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.

The fossil fuel industry and its Republican allies have waged a battle to repeal the Clean Power Plan, securing a key victory early last year when the Supreme Court halted implementation of the rule while lawsuits against it moved forward.

The EPA’s new argument against the regulation tracks closely with the one put forward by those foes — including Pruitt, who was formerly Oklahoma’s Attorney General — though a federal court never ruled on the validity of that position.

Trump and his administration have moved aggressively to undo President Obama’s climate change work, putting on hold or repealing dozens of regulations and announcing their intention to leave the international Paris climate deal.

The Clean Power Plan was the cornerstone of the U.S.’s commitment to that climate pledge. But Trump in March signed an executive order calling on the EPA to repeal the regulation, saying he was “putting an end to the war on coal,” a term used by opponents of the Obama administration’s efforts to cut down on the use of fossil fuels.

Source: The Hill