President Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency is expected to announce plans to eliminate Obama-era restrictions on emissions of greenhouse gases from coal power plants. The move would roll-back a central piece of the past administration’s efforts to fight climate change.
The Associated Press obtained the 43-page plan, in which the EPA argues that the emissions rule overstepped federal law, arguing that it sets unreasonable emissions standards for power plants. The document reiterates Trump’s intention to support the nation’s ailing coal industry.
The plan would follow through on the president’s campaign pledge to roll back the Obama administration’s efforts to fight climate change. This summer, Trump also pledged to withdraw the US from the landmark Paris climate accord.
The EPA is not proposing a replacement for the plan, but will open a period for public comments on whether to take action to curb emissions from coal and natural gas plants.
A spokeswoman from the agency declined to comment on whether the document was authentic, but emphasized that the prior administration “pushed the bounds of their authority so far” that the Supreme Court issued a stay to stop the Clean Power Plan.
“Any replacement rule that the Trump administration proposes will be done carefully and properly within the confines of the law,” she added.
The spokeswoman also argued that the prior administration’s cost-benefit analysis of the plan was “highly uncertain” in some areas, and said the Trump administration would offer several different options to Americans “in a robust, open and transparent way.”
The plan sought to reduce US carbon emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, using specific targets for each state, based on their emissions from power plants. It gave state officials discretion over how to achieve those targets. The supreme court put the plans on hold last year in response to a legal challenge from states and industry. Nonetheless, the plan was one factor, along with falling prices for natural gas and renewable energy, that led many coal plants to shut down.
Gina McCarthy, former EPA administrator, argued that repealing the rules with no other plans to reduce emissions “isn’t a step forward, it’s a wholesale retreat from EPA’s legal, scientific and moral obligation to address the threats of climate change.”
She said “this administration has no intention of following the law,” despite the supreme court’s ruling that the EPA is legally obligated to regulate the emissions of greenhouse gases.
Industry representatives praised the move. Chief executive of the National Mining Association, Hal Quinn, said:
“The Clean Power Plan represented an unlawful attempt to transform the nation’s power grid … and raise costs on American consumers.”