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EPA chief says Trump will undo Obama-era ‘Clean Power Plan’

Posted at 6:12 PM, Mar 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-26 22:33:36-04

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said Sunday that President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order Tuesday that will begin to undo the “Clean Power Plan,” a major initiative of the Obama administration to deal with climate change by reducing carbon pollution from power plants.

Pruitt, who previously challenged the plan as Oklahoma’s attorney general, said the executive order will put in place pro-growth and pro-environment approaches to regulation.

“We’ve made tremendous progress on our environment, and we can be both pro-jobs and pro-environment,” Pruitt told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on “This Week.” “And the executive order’s going to address the past administration’s effort to kill jobs across this country through the Clean Power Plan.”

The EPA plan is meant to reduce climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired and natural gas power plants, with a goal of reduce greenhouse emissions up to 32% by 2030. It would require states to meet specific carbon emission reduction standards based on their individual energy consumption, and it includes an incentive program for states to get ahead start on meeting standards on early deployment of renewable energy.

The plan is also considered important to helping the United States meet the goals set out in a climate treaty signed in Paris in 2015. While the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the plan from going into effect to allow legal challenges to move forward, the new executive order could send a negative signal to other countries in the Paris accord about the United States’ commitment to the deal.

Pruitt, however, argues the order is not bound to the international agreement.

“The Clean Power Plan is not tethered to … the Paris Accords,” he told Stephanopoulos. “And so this is an effort to undo the unlawful approach the previous administration engaged in, and to do it right going forward with the mindset of being pro-growth and pro-environment. And we can achieve both.”

When pressed on whether the new executive order would face court challenges, Pruitt said he isn’t worried about potential legal ramifications.

“This Clean Power Plan is something that the Supreme Court, as you know, has said is likely unlawful,” he said. “And so there’s been a stay against this Clean Power Plan. So our actions, starting on Tuesday, shortly after the executive order, will make sure that whatever steps we take in the future will be pro-growth, pro-environment, but within the framework of the Clean Air Act, and it will be legal.”

The plan is being challenged in the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Supporters of the regulations argue in briefs that they will “secure critically important reductions” in carbon dioxide emissions from what are by far “the largest emitters in the United States — fossil-fuel-fired power plants.”

But challengers say the rule exceeds the EPA’s statutory authority and goes beyond the bounds set by the Constitution.