EPA Head Formally Announces Elimination of Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan
Earlier this week, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced that he will sign a proposed administrative rule that will withdraw from the Clean Power Plan, a set of administrative regulations targeting coal and natural-gas power plant emissions.
A longtime target of President Trump and Mr. Pruitt in his former capacity as Oklahoma Attorney General, the Clean Power Plan established carbon emission reduction targets for each state, with the goal to reduce national power sector emissions by over 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. The Plan was designed to be flexible, allowing states to hit their respective reduction targets though several ways, including investments in renewable energy, emphasis on “clean energy,” and implementation of more energy efficient operations. Opponents decried the Plan as attacking the coal industry, and improperly expanding the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority.
The repeal was widely-expected following President Trump’s Executive Order 13783, which ordered the EPA to conduct its initial review of the Plan. According to a leaked version of the proposed rule obtained by CNN, the Plan exceeds the EPA’s statutory authority, and it is not in the public interest for the EPA to expend resources implementing a rule well-beyond its grant of authority. The proposed rule specifically attacks the Plan’s reliance on the Clean Air Act’s “best system of emission reduction” language. Mr. Pruitt claims that this language cannot be so broadly interpreted to mandate a specific type of energy generation – essentially anything but fossil fuels. Mr. Pruitt elaborated on this point in a Fox News interview, explaining that the EPA should not be an agency that “picks winner and losers as we generate electricity in this country,” and that the Obama administration’s “war on coal” was over.
The proposed repeal of the Plan is expected to face immediate lawsuits from environmental groups and several states, including New York and Massachusetts.