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EPA Formally Proposes to Rescind Obama-Era Clean Power Plan
October 18 2017, 11:02 | Irvin Gilbert
Erik Calonius Documerica
In the absence of stricter federal regulations curbing greenhouse gas emissions, many states have issued their own mandates promoting energy conservation. Rescinding the Clean Power Plan, it says, would, "avoid potentially transformative economic, policy, and political significance in the absence of a clear Congressional statement of intent to confer such authority on the Agency".
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. This portion of the statute allows the EPA to set overall standards for emissions of a pollutant for each state; the state would then provide the EPA with a plan for reaching that standard.
These final guidelines are consistent with the law and align with the approach that Congress and EPA have always taken to regulate emissions from this and all other industrial sectors - setting source-level, source category-wide standards that sources can meet through a variety of technologies and measures.
The Supreme Court put the plan on hold previous year following legal challenges by industry and coal-friendly states.
"As much as we want to see progress made with clean air and clean water, with an understanding that we can also grow jobs, we have to do so within the framework of what Congress has passed", Pruitt said. The initiative establishes a regional cap on the amount of carbon dioxide pollution that power plants can emit by issuing a limited number of tradable carbon allowances.
Conservative and free-market groups praised the administration's decision to reverse the Clean Power Plan.
This argument has never been tested in court.
"Now the public has an opportunity to weigh in, as EPA is required to accept public comment on the proposed repeal and a discussion paper on a replacement", Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement Monday.
Environmental groups blasted the announcement Monday.
Whether or not this position makes sense technologically is unclear.
A United States environmental organization, the Natural Resources Defense Council, tweeted that the Clean Power Plan is the most important step the U.S. has ever taken to curb unsafe impacts from climate change and that if the plan is repealed, it will take the EPA to court.
The Obama-era Clean Power Plan came about after a decade-long effort by several northeastern states, including NY and CT.
The Trump administration's move to start dismantling the Clean Power Plan rule meant to curb carbon emissions that contribute to global warming will not be a quick process. Nonetheless, the abundance and low cost of natural gas and wind power have led many utilities to shutter coal-fired power plants over the past few years.
The plants are responsible for about a third of all greenhouse-gas emissions in the U.S. West Coast states have vowed to continue pushing for emission reductions, despite the Trump administration's actions.
It's an odd position to announce, given that the EPA is now legally required to formulate some sort of regulation for greenhouse gases. Obama's EPA administrator, Gina McCarthy, called the proposal "just plain backwards".