The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will likely replace the Obama administration’s global warming regulations for coal-fired power with a less stringent and costly rule, industry sources said.
Industry attorneys told The New York Times EPA’s draft plan “would recommend regulating the emissions of individual coal plants, which would call for modest upgrades, such as improving efficiency or substituting fuel.”
That’s much less stringent and costly than the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), which would have forced states to cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal plants.
The Obama administration planned to use the CPP to meet the goals of the Paris climate accord. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced in October 2017 it would repeal the CPP. (RELATED: Is Scott Pruitt Really On His Way Out? Let’s Look At The Evidence)
Democrats and environmentalists were furious with EPA’s planned repeal, arguing the CPP was needed to fight global warming and promote green energy.
EPA’s proposed repeal, however, did not address whether or not the Trump administration would put another regulation in the CPP’s place. TheNYT reported utility industry arguments in favor of putting in place a weaker CO2 emissions rule that would stave off lawsuits from states and activist groups.
Conservative groups, however, have pushed for EPA to open a new review of the 2009 endangerment finding that gave the agency legal pretext to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
At least two groups — the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Concerned Household Electricity Consumers Council — petitioned EPA to reconsider the endangerment finding, suggesting it could be overturned based on failed global warming predictions.
If the endangerment finding were overturned, EPA would no longer be legally obligated under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases, invalidating the CPP and other regulations.
Many legal experts think it’s unlikely EPA will be able to overturn the endangerment finding. Utilities and the coal industry seem to favor a weaker CO2 emissions rule to hedge against lawsuits.
The Obama administration proposed the CPP in 2015, but it never went into full effect. The U.S. Supreme Court issued an unprecedented stay against the rule in early 2016 after 28 states sued to overturn the rule.
Pruitt spearheaded legal resistance to the CPP while he was attorney general of Oklahoma. Now, he’s in charge of dismantling it.
EPA is expected to send its proposal to the White House in the coming days, TheNYT reported. Even if EPA moves forward with a weaker CO2 emissions rule, the agency will likely face legal challenges.
A coalition of Democratic attorneys general formed by former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman vowed to use the courts to stop the Trump administration’s deregulatory agenda, including the CPP.
Indeed, Schneiderman’s coalition already filed suit against the Trump EPA over the CPP. The case was put on hold by federal judges in 2017.
Trump’s EPA says repealing the rule will save Americans $33 billion in compliance costs. The Obama EPA, however, claimed the CPP would only cost $8.4 billion and deliver public health and climate benefits ranging from $14 to $34 billion by 2030.
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