Another promise kept: EPA cancels Obama clean power plan

  • 13 October 2017
  • NormanL
Another promise kept: EPA cancels Obama clean power plan

Another item on the President's agenda advanced this week, with the action taking place at the EPA. There, EPA director Scott Pruitt ended the Obama administration's so called "clean power plan." The aim of this plan was to fight global warming. What it was really about was using the power of the state to pick economic winners and losers...with the losers being American consumers:

The Obama rule was expected to significantly hurt the coal industry since coal-fired power plants are the biggest carbon emitters. But Pruitt's announcement was also a rebuke of what he and Republicans see as Obama's “war on coal.” He and other Republicans are opposed to what they see as numerous regulations that have hurt the coal industry, which was already reeling from competition from cheap natural gas.

The EPA’s announcement is the first major step toward fulfilling a key campaign promise Trump made to repeal the climate rule that he’s called “stupid” and “job-killing.”

Trump’s EPA argues that the agency overstepped with the regulation, arguing it can only regulate pollution from individual plants and not sector-wide.

“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 Monday. “The last administration simply made it up.”

Myron Ebell, head of the energy and environment program at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, cheered the proposed repeal as a step toward getting rid of the rule completely.

“If it had gone into effect, the ‘Clean Power’ Plan rule to limit greenhouse gas emissions from coal and natural gas power plants would have been one of the most expensive regulations ever imposed, causing electric rates for consumers to go up and threatening the reliability of the electric grid,” he said in a statement. 

A possible side benefit of the repeal will be seeing if renewable energy firms can compete in the open market without government backing:

Pruitt...said he opposes the federal tax credits incentivizing wind and solar power.

“I would do away with these incentives that we give to wind and solar,” he said, referring to wind’s production tax credit and solar’s investment tax credit.

“I’d let them stand on their own and compete against coal and natural gas and other sources, and let utilities make real-time market decisions on those types of things as opposed to being propped up by tax incentives and other types of credits that occur, both in the federal level and state level," he continued.

Environmentalists have vowed to fight the repeal, and some have already lined up to sue the administration:

Democratic attorneys general quickly promised to sue the Trump administration over its Clean Power Plan decision.

“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, and I will use every available legal tool to fight their dangerous agenda,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement on Monday.

Maura Healey, the attorney general of Massachusetts, said she would sue “to protect the Clean Power Plan from the climate change deniers in this administration who are trying to move us backwards."  

Supporters of the Clean Power Plan contend the EPA has a legal requirement to regulate climate change-causing pollution, noting the agency’s endangerment finding for carbon dioxide and Supreme Court decisions on the issue.

“This responsibility can only be fulfilled through a strong, effective, and science-based policy like the Clean Power Plan. Repealing it simply won’t cut it,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said.

“That is why I will do everything in my power to defend the Clean Power Plan.”

Because that's what brings in the campaign donations. Our cynicism aside, this struggle will go on for a very long time. But in the interim, the Administration has taken another concrete step to free the economy from the Obama-era regulatory net. That's a very good thing.