EPA Halts Coal-Busting Climate Regs As Trump Era Nears

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) halted work Monday on plans to create a patchwork program allowing states to comply with climate rules regulating the country’s coal power plants.

Jane McCabe, the EPA’s head air regulator, announced the decision in a blog post, which included incomplete drafts of the rules and all documents used to craft them.

The agency does not typically publish the skeleton version of its drafts until they are finalized, but the specter of a President-elect Donald Trump presidency forced its hands.

They were intended to be a substitute for the Clean Power Plan (CPP), which was designed to force coal-fired power plants to reduce carbon emissions by 2030 to 32 percent below 2005 levels. It is also expected to cost an eye-bulging $41 billion annually.

President Barack Obama’s signature climate regulations were temporarily stopped by the U.S. Supreme Court in February. The EPA signaled shortly afterward that it would continue to work with states to craft their own version of the CPP, despite the court’s stay.

“The proposed model rules highlighted straightforward pathways to adopting a trading system, making it easy for states and power plants to use emissions trading to reduce carbon pollution,” McCabe wrote.

She added: “We believe that the work we have done so far may be useful at this time to the states, stakeholders and members of the public who are considering or are already implementing policies and programs that would cut carbon pollution from the power sector.”

McCabe’s decision was prompted by concerns that Trump would nix the Clean Power Plan (CPP), thereby thrashing the Model Plan the EPA was creating.

The EPA’s decision also comes as Congressional Republicans continue to heap pressure on Trump to permanently stop the CPP.

A coalition of attorneys general, for instance, urged Trump in early December to kill the coal plant-busting rules. They also are pushing Congress to use legislative maneuvers to prevent the EPA from drafting similar regulations in the future.

Trump’s well-documented climate skepticism and his move to nominate Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the EPA could provide Republicans with enough firepower to make a dent in the CPP.

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