EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced Monday that the Trump administration is moving to scrap the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration's signature regulatory program to curb emissions from coal-fired power plants.
Pruitt made the announcement at an event in Hazard, Ky., casting the previous policy as unfair.
“That rule really was about picking winners and losers,” Pruitt said. “The past administration was unapologetic, they were using every bit of power, authority to use the EPA to pick winners and losers on how we pick electricity in this country. That is wrong.”
He said that on Tuesday, he will sign a proposed rule to formally withdraw from the plan.
“It is right for this administration to say the war is over," Pruitt said.
The decision comes after President Trump in late March ordered a review of the controversial program, which was put on hold more than a year ago by the Supreme Court amid legal challenges from, among others, Pruitt himself.
The Clean Power Plan aimed to reduce carbon emissions from coal-burning power plants by having states meet certain targets. Supporters see the plan as a critical plank in efforts to curb global warming, but critics contend it would kill thousands of jobs and take direct aim at the struggling coal sector.
The move to officially nix the program was expected, following Trump's vow to end what he calls the "war on coal." Pruitt, however, can likely expect a new wave of litigation from the other side of the debate, as environmentalist groups and allied Democrats are sure to challenge the rollback.
Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune threatened such a court fight shortly after Monday’s announcement.
“Trump can’t reverse our clean energy and climate progress with the stroke of a pen, and we’ll fight him and Scott Pruitt in the courts, in the streets, and at the state and local level across America to protect the health of every community,” he said in a statement, calling the move “one of the most egregious attacks ever on public health, our climate, and the safety of every community in the United States.”
Brune said the EPA is “legally required to limit dangerous carbon pollution.”
The Clean Power Plan is hardly the only Obama policy being challenged or reversed by Trump. Just last Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services rolled back much of the ObamaCare requirement that employers provide contraceptive coverage.
Bloomberg first reported that the administration would propose rescinding the Clean Power Plan, by arguing it exceeded federal law. The next step reportedly would be to ask for public comment on how and whether to curb carbon emissions from these power plants.