The deconstruction of President Obama’s environmental agenda continues apace, with the most sweeping regulatory component of the last administration now in the sights of the Trump White House.
On Tuesday, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt formally proposed a rule to repeal the 2015 Clean Power Plan (CPP) aimed at slowing global warming.
“The war on coal is over,” Pruitt said Monday at an event in Kentucky, announcing his intentions. A former Attorney General of Oklahoma, Pruitt previously sued the Obama administration to kill the CPP. He is now in a position to do the deed himself.
The CPP would have required states to impose limits on greenhouse gas emissions at coal and other fossil fuel plants. It was also the roadmap by which the US could fulfill its carbon-reducing obligations under the UN Paris Climate Accord—an international deal agreed to by most of the nations of the world committed to slowing global temperature increases.
President Trump signed an executive order in March, instructing his EPA chief to conduct a review of the Clean Power Plan. The administration has also sent a number of signals that it intends to pull the US out of the Paris agreement.
Although several states have gone on to craft emissions rules under the plan, it has never fully gone into effect. The Supreme Court halted it from kicking in back in February 2016, while the lower US Court of Appeals in DC resolves its own consideration of the CPP’s legality.
In its Tuesday filing in the Federal Register, the EPA claimed that the Clean Power Plan would have “threatened to impose massive costs on the power sector and consumers,” and that the regulation “exceeds statutory authority.”
Fossil fuel industry groups, which EPA Administrator Pruitt has close ties with, applauded news of the repeal proposal.
“We have always believed that there is a better way to approach greenhouse gas emissions reductions,” Karen Harbert, the President of the Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute, said in a statement to the New York Times.
Climate groups, meanwhile, plan to fight the new rule, particularly during the months-long public comment period that must transpire before repeal of the Clean Power Plan can be finalized.
Vickie Patton, general counsel at the Environmental Defense Fund, told FRONTLINE that attempts to kill the CPP mark “one of the most damaging rollbacks of public health and fundamental clean air protections that an EPA administrator has ever undertaken.”
Although the Trump administration has failed to implement many of its big-ticket items like replacing the Affordable Care Act or passing tax reform, it has effectively picked apart President Obama’s regulatory framework.
Fourteen Obama-era rules dealing with the environment, workers’ rights, and finance have been repealed through Congress invoking the arcane Congressional Review Act, which allows lawmakers to void newer regulations.