Don­ald Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion to ter­mi­nate Obama’s cli­mate plan

Simcoe Reformer - - LIFE - Adam Beam and Michael Biesecker EPA Ad­min­is­tra­tor Scott Pruitt, talks to a re­porter af­ter speak­ing at Whayne Sup­ply in Haz­ard, Ky., on Mon­day. Pruitt says the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion will aban­don the Obama-era clean power plan aimed at re­duc­ing global warmin

HAZ­ARD , Ky. — The head of the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency said Mon­day that he will sign a new rule over­rid­ing the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era ef­fort to limit car­bon emis­sions from coal-fired power plants.

“The war on coal is over,” EPA Ad­min­is­tra­tor Scott Pruitt de­clared in the coal min­ing state of Kentucky. He said no fed­eral agency “should ever use its author­ity” to “de­clare war on any sec­tor of our econ­omy.”

For Pruitt, get­ting rid of the Clean Power Plan will mark the cul­mi­na­tion of a long fight he be­gan as the elected at­tor­ney gen­eral of Ok­la­homa. Pruitt was among about two-dozen at­tor­ney gen­er­als who sued to stop Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s 2014 push to limit car­bon emis­sions, stymieing the lim­its from ever tak­ing ef­fect.

Closely aligned with the oil and gas in­dus­try in his home state, Pruitt re­jects the con­sen­sus of sci­en­tists that man-man emis­sions from burn­ing fos­sil fu­els are the pri­mary driver of global cli­mate change.

U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, who ap­pointed Pruitt and shares his skep­ti­cism of es­tab­lished cli­mate sci­ence, promised to kill the Clean Power Plan dur­ing the 2016 cam­paign as part of his broader pledge to re­vive the na­tion’s strug­gling coal mines.

In his or­der Tues­day, Pruitt is ex­pected to de­clare that the Obama-era rule ex­ceeded fed­eral law by set­ting emis­sions stan­dards that power plants could not rea­son­ably meet.

It was not im­me­di­ately clear if Pruitt would seek to is­sue a new rule with­out con­gres­sional ap­proval, which Repub­li­cans had crit­i­cized the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion for do­ing. Pruitt’s rule wouldn’t be­come fi­nal for months, and is then highly likely to face le­gal chal­lenges filed by left­lean­ing states and en­vi­ron­men­tal groups.

Pruitt ap­peared at an event with Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell at Whayne Sup­ply, a Haz­ard, Ky., com­pany that sells coal min­ing sup­plies. The store’s own­ers have been forced to lay off about 60 per cent of its work­ers in re­cent years. While cheer­ing the demise of the Clean Power Plan as a way to stop the bleed­ing, McCon­nell con­ceded most of those lost jobs are never com­ing back.

“A lot of dam­age has been done,” said McCon­nell, a Kentucky Repub­li­can. “This doesn’t im­me­di­ately bring ev­ery­thing back, but we think it stops fur­ther de­cline of coal fired plants in the United States and that means there will still be some mar­ket here.”

Obama’s plan was de­signed to cut U.S. car­bon diox­ide emis­sions to 32 per cent be­low 2005 lev­els by 2030. The rule dic­tated spe­cific emis­sion tar­gets for states based on power-plant emis­sions and gave of­fi­cials broad lat­i­tude to de­cide how to achieve re­duc­tions.

The Supreme Court put the plan on hold last year fol­low­ing le­gal chal­lenges by in­dus­try and coal-friendly states. Even so, the plan helped drive a re­cent wave of re­tire­ments of coal-fired plants, which are also be­ing squeezed by low cost nat­u­ral gas and re­new­able power. In the ab­sence of stricter fed­eral reg­u­la­tions curb­ing green­house gas emis­sions, many states have is­sued their own man­dates pro­mot­ing en­ergy con­ser­va­tion.

The with­drawal of the Clean Power Plan is the lat­est in a se­ries of moves by Trump and Pruitt to dis­man­tle Obama’s legacy on fight­ing cli­mate change, in­clud­ing the de­lay or roll back of rules lim­it­ing lev­els of toxic pol­lu­tion in smoke­stack emis­sions and waste­water dis­charges from coal-burn­ing power plants.

The pres­i­dent an­nounced ear­lier this year that he will pull the U.S. out of the land­mark Paris cli­mate agree­ment. Nearly 200 coun­tries have com­mit­ted to com­bat global warm­ing by re­duc­ing car­bon diox­ide and other green­house gases that con­trib­ute to global warm­ing.

“This pres­i­dent has tremen­dous courage,” Pruitt said Mon­day. “He put Amer­ica first and said to the rest of the world we are go­ing to say no and exit the Paris Ac­cord. That was the right thing to do.”

En­vi­ron­men­tal groups and pub­lic health ad­vo­cates quickly de­rided Pruitt’s de­ci­sion as short sighted.

“Trump is not just ig­nor­ing the deadly cost of pol­lu­tion, he’s ig­nor­ing the clean en­ergy de­ploy­ment that is rapidly cre­at­ing jobs across the coun­try,” said Michael Brune, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Sierra Club.

Adam Beam/ the associated press

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