Trump Administration Rolls Back Obama-Era Clean Power Plan

by | Jun 20, 2019

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Trump Administration Rolls Back Obama-Era Clean Power Plan

(Photo Credit: Kid Clutch, Flickr Creative Commons)

Headed by Andrew Wheeler, the EPA issued a final rule that replaces the Obama-era Clean Power Plan with one that allows states to set emissions standards for coal-fired plants. The Trump administration called the previous rule “overreaching.”

Introduced in August 2015, President Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) called for national standards to address carbon pollution from power plants and a transition to “cleaner sources of energy” by 2030. At the time, Obama and the EPA projected that the plan would result in $26 billion to $45 billion net climate and health benefits.

By the EPA’s own calculations four years ago, the plan was expected to avoid 300,000 missed work days and school days, 90,000 asthma attacks, 1,700 heart attacks, and 3,600 premature deaths annually.

Instead, on Wednesday Wheeler’s EPA finalized a new rule, called the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule.

“The move fulfills part of President Donald Trump’s promise to help the coal industry, but will likely face court challenges from environmental groups and several states who see the rollback as detrimental to clean air and efforts to fight the climate crisis,” CNN’s Ellie Kaufman wrote.

Wheeler became top EPA administrator after Scott Pruitt resigned last year. The Washington Post reported at the time that Pruitt is a former Senate staffer and EPA employee who had spent the past decade representing coal, mining, and other energy companies. Prior to becoming a lobbyist, Wheeler worked for well-known climate science denier James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma).

Environmental groups quickly slammed the new rule. “The deceptively named ‘Affordable Clean Energy’ (ACE) rule ignores the enormous benefits that would come with a stronger policy,” NRDC policy analyst Arjun Krishnaswami wrote online. “The Trump EPA is throwing away an opportunity to drive further, cost-effective reductions in pollution from our power sector that could prevent thousands of early deaths from unhealthy air and make strides toward addressing the climate crisis.”

EDF president Fred Krupp called the rule a disgrace. “States and power companies across the country are already reducing climate pollution, in some cases by much more than the Clean Power Plan called for,” he wrote online. “We should seize on and build from this clean energy momentum — but instead the Trump administration’s rollback will pull us down a failed and dangerous path.”

On Wednesday New York Attorney General Letitia James signaled her intent to sue the EPA over the rule, and said she looked forward to joining other states and cities in taking action. Earlier this year a group of states from the Northeast sued the agency over ozone emissions standards.

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