President Donald Trump's administration plans to kill the centerpiece of President Barack Obama's climate-change action.
The Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Scott Pruitt, on Monday said he would sign a proposed rule Tuesday rescinding Obama's Clean Power Plan, established in 2015 to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions.
Pruitt spoke at an event with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in Hazard, Kentucky — coal country.
"Here's the president's message: The war on coal is over," Pruitt said. "Regulatory power should not be used by any regulatory body to pick winners and losers."
On the campaign trail, Trump vowed to bring back coal-mining jobs and dismantle Obama's environmental policy, declaring climate change a "hoax." Back in March, Trump signed an executive order ordering the EPA to review the Clean Power Plan.
Obama enacted the plan to cap pollution from power plants. It targeted power plants in 47 states (Hawaii, Alaska, and Vermont don't have power plants covered by the regulation and were exempt), aiming to cut their carbon emissions to 32% below 2005 levels by 2030.
The plan was supposed to be instrumental in helping the US reach its goals for the Paris climate agreement, which Obama signed with nearly every other country in 2015 but which Trump in June said he would pull the US out of.
"The EPA and no federal agency should ever use its authority to say to you we are going to declare war on any sector of our economy," Pruitt said Monday.
As administrator, Pruitt has refocused the EPA to get "back to basics," homing in on the agency's "core mission" of protecting the nation's air, land, and water. While attorney general for Oklahoma, Pruitt sued the EPA 14 times for what he described as "overreach."
Many of Obama's actions were remarkably complex, however, so it may take Trump a while to reverse them.
While coal jobs are unlikely to come back in droves with this or other actions the administration is taking, the move would make good on Trump's promise to rescind regulations that "unduly burden the development of domestic energy resources."
Democrats, environmentalists, and other protesters demonstrated outside the White House after Trump signed the executive order in March, declaring it would lead to runaway climate change, while many Republican members of Congress applauded the action for promoting energy independence. The same played out after Pruitt's comments on Monday.
The Natural Resources Defense Council threatened to sue the EPA if Pruitt were to rescind the plan. Democratic lawmakers decried the move.
Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware said he was "deeply disappointed" with Pruitt's decision. "The @EPA has a clear obligation to address carbon emissions & the Clean Power Plan was helping to achieve that goal," he tweeted, adding that the decision "undermines our commitment to fight climate change & embrace a clean energy future."
Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia tweeted: "This would erode US leadership in tackling climate change & set us back years in hastening clean energy & job creation. Woefully misguided."
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