EPA's Scott Pruitt Announces Repeal Of Clean Power Plan

Green groups criticized Monday's announcement and praised the plan, a collection of emissions standards for US states that the Obama administration imposed to reduce pollution from power plants - the largest emitters of greenhouse gases - by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

The Clean Power Plan sought to reduce carbon emissions in the United States from power plants for the first time - in line with commitments taken by the Obama administration under the Paris Climate Agreement, from which Trump has declared his intention to withdraw.

Mayors of at least 381 cities have pledged they would stick to the goals of the Paris Agreement after Trump announced the US would withdraw, as have the governors from at least 10 states, as well as CEOs from major companies.

The move is part of Republican President Donald Trump's plan to revive the country's coal industry and boost domestic fossil fuels production. The EPA now says the Clean Power Plan introduced by Obama in 2015 was illegal. But before it could be implemented several lawsuits at the federal level led to the Supreme Court putting it on hold. These requirements, critics argued, would cripple fossil fuel economies, force plant shutdowns and put Americans out of work.

Based on these trends, the Rhodium Group found power sector emissions would fall "27% to 35% below 2005 levels - bookending EPA's target for the CPP" despite the repeal.

Arkansas leaders are responding to the expected announcement Tuesday from the head of the federal Environmental Protection Agency to roll back Obama-era regulations. Now only five power plants in Arkansas are coal-burning plants, which would have received substantial reductions under the Clean Power Plan.

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When the Obama administration passed the rule, the EPA estimated it could avert up to 6,600 premature deaths, 150,000 asthma attacks and 3,300 heart attacks by 2030. West Coast states have vowed to continue pushing for emission reductions, despite the Trump administration's actions. Nevada, Arizona and Utah are already aiming to reduce emissions by 15 to 25 percent by 2025.

Rolling back the rule was a major plank of President Trump's campaign a year ago. It does not offer a replacement plan for regulating emissions of carbon dioxide, which the Supreme Court has ruled that the EPA is obligated to do. The Trump EPA doesn't want to hear anything about that, either: "The substance of the 2009 Endangerment Finding is not at issue in this proposed rulemaking, and we are not soliciting comment on the EPA's assessment of the impacts of greenhouse gases with this proposal".

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has pledged to sue the Trump administration over the change, which she says violates the law and imperils the planet.

"Governor Christie's decision to pull out not only slowed progress on lowering emissions, but it also cost New Jerseyans tens of millions of dollars that should have been used to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy efficiency, and improve air quality in urban communities", Murphy explains on his campaign website.

This story originally appeared in High Country News.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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