Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt announced Monday his agency’s plans to withdraw the Clean Power Plan, the sweeping Obama-era rule regulating greenhouse gas emissions.
While speaking in Kentucky at an event with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Pruitt said he will sign the proposed rule repealing Obama’s plan Tuesday.“When you think about what that rule meant, it was about picking winners and losers. Regulatory power should not be used by any regulatory body to pick winners and losers,” he said at the event. “The past administration was using every bit of power and authority to use the EPA to pick winners and losers and how we generate electricity in this country. That’s wrong.”
The Clean Power Plan requires states to meet specific carbon emission reduction standards based on their individual energy consumption. The plan also includes an incentive program for states to get a head start on meeting standards on early deployment of renewable energy and low-income energy efficiency.Under President Barack Obama, the EPA estimated the Clean Power Plan could prevent 2,700 to 6,600 premature deaths and 140,000 to 150,000 asthma attacks in children.
When asked earlier this year on Fox News about the health consequences of doing away with the Clean Power Plan, Pruitt ducked the question and focused on how the plan would cost jobs. He argued the plan was bureaucratic overreach.“As much as we want to see progress made with clean air and clean water, with an understanding that we can also grow jobs, we have to do so within the framework of what Congress has passed,” Pruitt said.
Former EPA employees have reacted harshly to the planned repeal of the rule. Obama’s EPA administrator, Gina McCarthy, called the proposal “just plain backwards.”
“A proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan without any time line or even a commitment to propose a rule to reduce carbon pollution, isn’t a step forward, it’s a wholesale retreat from EPA’s legal, scientific and moral obligation to address the threats of climate change,” McCarthy said in a statement Friday.
For those unfamiliar with the CPP, here’s a breakdown.
The Clean Power Plan establishes state-by-state targets for carbon emissions reductions, and it offers a flexible framework under which states may meet those targets. The final version of the rule would reduce national electricity sector emissions by an estimated 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.
The plan provides for a number of options to cut carbon emissions and determines state emissions reduction targets by estimating the extent to which states can take advantage of each of them. Options for cutting emissions include investing in renewable energy, energy efficiency, natural gas, and nuclear power, and shifting away from coal-fired power. The final rule also takes steps to limit a rush to natural gas.
Targets differ across states because of each state’s unique mix of electricity-generation resources—and also because of technological feasibilities, costs, and emissions reduction potentials, all of which vary across the country. States are free to combine any of the options in a flexible manner to meet their targets. States can also join together in multi-state or regional compacts to find the lowest cost options for reducing their carbon emissions, including through emissions trading programs.
Fact sheets, reports, and analyses of the draft Clean Power Plan include:
States of Progress: Analysis shows that existing commitments to clean energy put most states on track to meet the draft Clean Power Plan’s 2020 emissions-reduction benchmarks. (June 2015)
Strengthening the EPA’s Clean Power Plan through Greater Use of Renewable Energy: Analysis of the draft Clean Power Plan revealed that the EPA could nearly double the amount of cost-effective renewable energy in their state targets—from 12 percent of total 2030 U.S. electric sales to 23 percent. (October 2014)
Tapping Renewables and Efficiency to Meet Carbon Standards for Power Plants (PDF): Fact sheet outlines how policy makers can employ renewables and efficiency to reduce global warming emissions from the electricity sector. (May 2014)