EPA to withdraw from Obama-era Clean Power Plan

Published: Oct. 9, 2017 at 10:12 AM CDT
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EPA Administrator Pruitt says his administration will withdraw from Obama-era Clean Power Plan to slow global warming.

The move is seen as a major victory for the coal industry. However, it’s also a blow for former President Barack Obama’s climate change legacy.

Speaking in Kentucky on Monday, Pruitt said he will sign a proposed rule on Tuesday "to withdraw the so-called clean power plan of the past administration." The clean power plan aimed to restrict greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants. It was a centerpiece of the Obama administration's environmental policies.

Pruitt said the EPA should not use its authority "to say to you we are going to declare war on any sector of our economy."

A draft proposal of the Environmental Protection Agency’s looming decision, leaked late last week and posted online, says the plan — which would have limited carbon emissions from power plants and, in the process, drastically reduced the amount of coal-generated electricity in the U.S. — goes beyond the bounds of federal law and unnecessarily hikes energy prices for consumers.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, as Oklahoma’s attorney general, sued the federal government over the policy. 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 EPA proposes to determine that the CPP is not within Congress’s grant of authority to the agency under the governing statute. It is not in the interests of the EPA, or in accord with its mission of environmental protection consistent with the rule of law, to expend its resources along the path of implementing a rule, receiving and passing judgment on state plans, or promulgating federal plans in furtherance of a policy that is not within the bounds of our statutory authority,” the agency says.

The Clean Power Plan, the most controversial of all the environmental measures put forth during the Obama administration, has never taken effect because of legal challenges and a stay by the U.S. Supreme Court.

But the proposal still had dramatic results. 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 Clean Power Plan was designed to cut carbon pollution from the power generation sector by more than 30 percent by 2030 when compared with 2005 levels. The rule was a key component of the nation’s broader emissions-reduction pledge under the Paris climate accord, which President Trump exited this summer.