In a Massive Step Backwards EPA Rolls Back Obama Era Policy on Coal.
The head of the Environmental Protection Agency said on Monday that he will sign a new rule overriding the Clean Power Plan, an Obama Era effort to limit carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants.
“The war on coal is over,” EPA administrator Scott Pruitt declared in the coal mining state of Kentucky, at an event with one of the state’s US senators, majority leader Mitch McConnell.
For Pruitt, getting rid of the Clean Power Plan will mark the culmination of a long fight he began as the elected attorney general of Oklahoma. Pruitt was among about two-dozen attorney generals who sued to stop President Obama’s push to limit carbon emissions.
Closely tied to the oil and gas industry in his home state, Pruitt rejects the consensus of scientists that emissions from burning fossil fuels are the primary driver of global climate change.
Donald Trump, who appointed Pruitt and shares his skepticism of established climate science, promised to kill the clean power plan during the 2016 campaign as part of his broader pledge to revive the nation’s struggling coal mines.
In his order on Tuesday, Pruitt is expected to declare that the Obama-era rule exceeded federal law by setting emissions standards that power plants could not reasonably meet.
Appearing at Whayne Supply, a Hazard, Kentucky company that sells coal mining supplies, Pruitt said: “The EPA and no federal agency should ever use its authority to say to you we are going to declare war on any sector of our economy.”
Whayne Supply has laid off about 60% of its workers in recent years. While cheering the demise of the clean power plan as a way to stop the bleeding, McConnell conceded most of those lost jobs are never coming back.
“A lot of damage has been done,” said McConnell. “This doesn’t immediately bring everything back, but we think it stops further decline of coal fired plants in the United States and that means there will still be some market here.”
Obama’s plan was designed to cut US carbon dioxide emissions to 32% below 2005 levels by 2030. The rule dictated specific emission targets for states based on power-plant emissions and gave officials broad latitude to decide how to achieve reductions.
The supreme court put the plan on hold last year following legal challenges by industry and coal-friendly states.