EPA begins repeal of Obama’s climate plan

By Michael Bastasch

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt signed a proposal to repeal the Obama administration’s signature global warming regulation.

“We are committed to righting the wrongs of the Obama administration by cleaning the regulatory slate,” Pruitt said Tuesday in an emailed statement. “Any replacement rule will be done carefully, properly, and with humility, by listening to all those affected by the rule.”

The EPA now begins the lengthy process of rescinding the Clean Power Plan (CPP), which limited carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. The CPP was a key part of former President Barack Obama’s plan to comply with the Paris climate accord.

Now, both the Paris accord and the CPP are being undone. Environmentalists and Democratic state attorneys general pledged to sue over the repeal, while conservatives and industry groups cheered the announcement.

The EPA said that repealing the CPP will save $33 billion in compliance costs. The agency re-analyzed the Obama administration’s cost-benefit report on the CPP, changing how they calculated the benefits of fighting global warming and reducing air pollution.

“I am glad to see that the Environmental Protection Agency is taking formal steps to repeal the Clean Power Plan,” Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso said in an emailed statement.

The Obama administration finalized the CPP in 2015, aiming to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Wyoming, the biggest coal-producing state, would have been forced to cut emissions nearly 44 percent by 2030, threatening its coal mining and power sector. Wyoming was one of 27 states suing to have the CPP thrown out. The U.S. Supreme Court halted implementation of the rule in early 2016.

“The EPA is supposed to issue reasonable regulations to protect America’s air,” Barrasso said. “The Clean Power Plan was unreasonable and unlawful. It would have hurt energy workers in Wyoming and harmed the state’s economy.”

President Donald Trump signed an executive order in March, putting the CPP and other Obama-era global warming policies under review.

Environmentalists, on the other hand, argue that repealing the CPP will make global warming worse and deny Americans the benefits of the green energy economy.

“Following the barrage of super-charged hurricanes, powered in part by warming seas, now is not the time to be backsliding on the country’s obligation to reduce the risks of climate change,” Sam Adams, the U.S. director of the World Resources Institute, said in a statement.

Activists also say the EPA is required by law to regulate carbon dioxide emissions. The EPA, however, has not said if or when it will release a regulation to replace the CPP.

“Administrator Pruitt must not shirk his responsibility to cut U.S. carbon emissions and protect American’s health and security,” Adams said.

Pruitt said the EPA will issue an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) to solicit input from outside groups and experts on possible replacements to the CPP.

“With this action, the Trump administration is respecting states’ role and reinstating transparency into how we protect our environment,” Pruitt said.

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