EPA To Repeal Obama's 'Clean Power Plan'

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Say goodbye to the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration's landmark rule to curb pollution from coal-fired power plants. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is scrapping it.

EPA Chief Director Scott Pruitt announced the repeal alongside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at an event in Hazard, Kentucky, on Oct. 9, The Washington Post reports.

"The war on coal is over," Pruitt said. "Tomorrow, in Washington, D.C., I’ll be signing a proposed rule to withdraw the so-called Clean Power Plan of the past administration, and thus begin the effort to withdraw that rule."

The 43-page proposal, which will be filed in the Federal Register on Oct. 10, abandons all mention of the health benefits of curbing carbon emissions and focuses on the fiscal advantages of repealing it. According to The New York Times, the U.S. would save $33 billion by not complying with the Clean Power Plan.

Beyond the financial reasoning for repeal, Pruitt claims that the Obama administration overstepped its authority by passing the legislation.

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The Clean Power Plan drew heavy criticism since it was first introduced in 2015. The plan aimed to reduce power emissions as much as 32 percent from the 2005 level by 2030. The emission reductions would be achieved by improving the efficiency of power companies and increasing their use of clean energy, which industry leaders claimed might not be feasible.

Backlash against the law was swift. It was temporarily stalled from taking effect while the Supreme Court reviewed the numerous lawsuits that had been filed against it, The New York Times reports.

Some states have already begun to switch to clean power for economic reasons. An analysis by the research firm Rhodium Group found that U.S. power emissions are already set to meet the goals of the Clean Power Plan by as early as 2025. However, the plan would have mandated 21 states to make deeper cuts than they currently are, so repeal is likely to slow the overall rate of reduction.

The repeal does not offer a solid backup plan for the EPA so it can work on reducing carbon emissions, The Washington Post reports. Rather, it will be relying on public comments to decide how to reduce coal and natural gas emissions.

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Democratic New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has already announced plans to sue the Trump administration over the decision to repeal the plan without offering a replacement, The Hill reports.  

"The Trump administration’s persistent and indefensible denial of climate change and their continued assault on actions essential to stemming its increasing devastation is reprehensible," Schneiderman said. "I will use every available legal tool to fight their dangerous agenda."

Joining him in a legal fight is Democratic California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and environmental watchdog Earthjustice.

Despite criticism, Pruitt maintains that the legislation is unjust and that his administration's EPA is doing the right thing by repealing it.

"It’s Congress that passes legislation that gives us direction, that gives us our orders as far as how we administer the statute," Pruitt said. "The last administration simply made it up."

Sources: The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Hill / Featured Image: Gage Skidmore/Flickr / Embedded Images: Arnold Paul/Wikimedia Commons, Jorge Royan/Wikimedia Commons

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