WASHINGTON – The Trump Administration is abandoning the Clean Power Plan which was supposed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, made the announcement Oct. 9 in Hazard, Ky., amid coalfields that will benefit from the reversal because the plan was detrimental to coal-fired plants. Pruitt said the withdrawal of the plan will come Oct. 10.
“The EPA and no federal agency should ever use its authority to say to you we are going to declare war on any sector of our economy,” Pruitt said at the event, which also featured Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “That rule really was about picking winners and losers.
“The past administration was unapologetic, they were using every bit of power, authority to use the EPA to pick winners and losers on how we pick electricity in this country. That is wrong. … It is right for this administration to say the war is over.”
The move comes after Trump ordered a review of the plan in March. It had been put on hold by the U.S. Supreme Court last year amid legal challenges from, among others, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Pruitt himself when he was Oklahoma’s AG.
U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.) praised the announcement.
“After eight years of radical environmental policies from the White House, we now have a president focused on bringing coal jobs back,” Jenkins, a Republican, said. “President Trump promised to fight for our miners and our way of life, and he is keeping his word.
“The Obama administration used this rule to pick winners and losers at the expense of West Virginia’s jobs. I will continue to work with President Trump on solutions that will move West Virginia forward, create more jobs, and return the EPA to its core mission.”
Morrisey also hailed the move.
Obama Power Plan is officially dead,” he said on Twitter. “Glad to play a central role bringing this illegal regulation down. I fight and win for coal miners.”
Morrisey expanded on that comment later in a press release.
“From the very beginning, I said the Obama Power Plan was blatant and unlawful federal overreach," he said. "I was humbled to have led the state-based coalition that defeated the Power Plan in court through an unprecedented stay at the Supreme Court and am excited that the Trump Administration is taking the final step to kill this terrible, job-killing regulation.
"I believe these actions will help lead to a rebound for coal and will make lives better for coal miners and their families.”
Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican, said he was pleased as well.
“This is great news for our state and the coal industry,” Justice said. “Coal has been steadily recovering, we’ve seen an upturn in severance taxes and this decision will clearly help put our coal miners back to work.
"President Trump promised me he was going to take care of our miners and he is doing just that,” Gov. Justice added. “We are pleased that the director of the EPA is taking these steps to repeal the current rule.”
U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said the decision is a good one for West Virginia.
“For years, the Obama administration waged a war on coal and issued heavy-handed regulations to pick winners and losers among energy industries,” she said. “In West Virginia, our coal miners, their families and entire communities felt the blow of that misguided approach to energy production. It’s refreshing to see how committed the Trump administration is to pursuing a true all-of-the-above energy policy, and Administrator Pruitt’s announcement is another sign that America’s energy strategy is headed in the right direction.
“Our country can be a real global leader when it comes to energy production, but we can’t shutter entire industries that have helped power this country for decades. We should responsibly embrace all forms of energy production, do what we can to improve them and continue to explore new and innovative energy options. I appreciate the Trump administration’s commitment to creating and preserving good energy jobs and expanding America’s energy potential, and I look forward to continuing to work together to achieve these important goals.”
Regulations in the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan would have prevented construction of new coal plants and require most existing plants to close in the coming years. In 2015, Capito introduced a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Reivew Act to block the plan. While the Senate and the House of Representative passed Capito’s resolution, Obama vetoed it.
Jenkins was one of a number of lawmakers who filed an amicus brief supporting West Virginia’s court case against the EPA for the Clean Power Plan. He has also voted to stop implementation of the Obama-era coal-fired power plant regulations, including helping to pass a congressional resolution of disapproval of the rule. He supported passage of the Ratepayer Protection Act, which would ensure states would not be forced to implement a state or federal plan if it would significantly hurt consumers or the reliability of the state’s electrical system.
As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, Jenkins secured policy riders in spending bills that would prohibit funding for the Clean Power Plan. He also introduced legislation – the Transparency and Honesty in Energy Regulations Act – that would prohibit the EPA and the Energy Department from using the social cost of carbon and social cost of methane as rationales for their costly and burdensome regulations.