By Michael Bastasch
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is preparing to repeal and replace the centerpiece of the Obama administration’s global warming agenda, according to an agency document.
Reuters obtained an EPA document, detailing how the agency “is issuing a proposal to repeal the rule” many feared would further hurt the coal and nuclear industries. The document was given to members of EPA’s Regulatory Steering Committee.
The Obama administration finalized the Clean Power Plan (CPP) in 2015, which aimed to cut carbon dioxide emissions from U.S. power plants. The rule was expected to force coal plants to shut down, and was almost immediately targeted by the Trump administration for repeal.
“We have been working on a CPP repeal rule from day one,” EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “It is still going through the interagency process and we will provide more information to all interested parties when it is ready for release.”
The CPP required states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, and made it nearly impossible to build new coal-fired power plants by mandating they use carbon capture and storage technology.
A coalition of states, businesses and unions sued EPA to have the rule struck down. The Supreme Court issued an unprecedented stay on the rule’s implementation in 2016, so it never went into effect.
President Trump issued an executive order in March to begin reviewing the CPP and other Obama-era global warming policies.
EPA will issue an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to get input on “developing a rule similarly intended to reduce CO2 emissions from existing fossil fuel electric utility generating units.” The document did not contain any specifics on what would replace the CPP, Reuters reported.
The document obtained by Reuters may lack specifics, but TheDCNF has spoken with experts over the past 10 months, asking them what EPA policies the EPA could use replace the CPP.
Drain the swamp
Conservative groups tend to favor issuing no replacement at all, instead calling on EPA to review the 2009 endangerment finding that gives the agency the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
Two conservative groups have petitioned EPA to review the endangerment finding, but so far, Administrator Scott Pruitt has been silent on whether or not he will reopen the 2009 finding.
A lighter touch
Utilities and major power companies, on the other hand, want EPA to replace the CPP with a more limited rule to give the industry certainty over how to invest.
Anonymous officials told reporters in early August that Pruitt would issue an “inside the fence” rule to regulate power plant emissions. This rule would focus on making individual plants more efficient, rather than the industry-wide approach the Obama administration took.
Pruitt seemed to favor an “inside the fence” approach to regulating carbon dioxide emissions while suing EPA as Oklahoma’s attorney general.
No need to replace it
Others say EPA may not need to replace the CPP, and can instead argue power plants already regulated under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act are excluded from carbon dioxide rules.
“I’d be disappointed if they didn’t even solicit comment on the 112 exclusion that would preclude any regulation of greenhouse gases from existing stationary sources that are already subject to MACT rules,” Will Yeatman, a senior fellow at the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute, told TheDCNF.
Environmentalist attorneys have expressed skepticism this argument would hold up in court.
“That said, a non-federal party would be free to bring such a challenge, so the argument would get its day in court, even if the EPA has abandoned that option,” Yeatman said.
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