States would set own rules under Trump emissions plan

From Power Magazine

A report from POLITICO says the Trump administration’s rollback of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan (CPP) would give individual states more leeway to set their own rules governing emissions from power plants.

POLITICO, which covers politics and policy both in the U.S. and internationally, said its review of a draft document, and information from a source who has read other parts of the draft, shows the administration would offer regulations that “would do far less to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the planet.”

POLITICO’s report released on August 14 says the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has acknowledged that carbon emissions and other pollutants from power plants would be higher under the new proposal.

The Clean Power Plan was designed as a way to move the U.S. away from coal-fired power generation and toward less-polluting sources such as wind, solar, and natural gas, as it sought to cut U.S. carbon dioxide emissions to 32% below 2005 levels by 2030. It was proposed by Obama’s EPA in June 2014, with a final version of the plan published in the Federal Register in October 2015.

Challenges to the CPP

The plan was immediately challenged by several lawmakers on Capitol Hill, and within days of being published 27 states—mostly those dependent on coal-fired power and the coal industry—petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit for an emergency stay.

Detractors argued the costs of the CPP would outweigh its benefits. Jordan McGillis, a policy analyst for the Institute for Energy Research in Washington, D.C., in a commentary in POWER magazine in December 2017 said the CPP would increase electricity costs for U.S. consumers and would have “a negligible effect on global warming.”

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay against the rule in February 2016, ordering the rule not be implemented until the merits of the case against it were decided. A decision in the case has not been reached and the CPP has never taken effect.

Trump has been a vocal opponent of the CPP. Scott Pruitt, his EPA administrator who stepped down earlier this year amid investigations into alleged ethics violations, sued the agency over the rule during his time as Oklahoma’s attorney general. The president during his campaign said he would rescind the rule and also pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement, which he has done.

Janet McCabe, a senior law fellow with the Environmental Law & Policy Center who oversaw air regulations for Obama’s EPA, told POLITICO that Trump’s proposal would be “another, more official, sign that the government of the United States is not committed to climate policy.” McCabe said based on her knowledge of the proposal, it would offer “a significant amount of discretion to states to decide that nothing at all needs to be done.”


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