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Obama’s Clean Power Plan Is Finally Getting The Axe. But Climate Skeptics Want More

E&E News

The Trump administration today will officially announce the end of the Clean Power Plan, a regulation limiting planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. But the conservative crowd that’s skeptical about climate change says its work is just beginning.

U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt argued yesterday that the climate rule is a reflection of President Obama’s antagonism toward the fossil fuel industry, describing it as an unlawful interpretation of the Clean Air Act (Greenwire, Oct. 9).

“The past administration was unapologetic,” Pruitt told a group of coal miners yesterday in Hazard, Ky. “They were using every bit of power, every bit of authority to use the EPA to pick winners and losers in how we generate electricity in this country. And that’s wrong.”

For all the applause that Pruitt received, there is also disgruntlement. A backroom battle between industry officials and those anti-climate conservatives over whether to issue a scaled-back replacement rule is burgeoning. The hard-liners don’t want an alternative rule because greenhouse gases would still be regulated. And that could mark an acceptance of the endangerment finding, a mound of scientific evidence that affirms human-caused carbon emissions are at the root of rising temperatures.

Climate skeptics question if Pruitt truly wants to attack the endangerment finding. He hasn’t said yes or no publicly. He’s only offered hints. Doubts extend to President Trump, who has expressed cynicism about climate science but hasn’t focused on the all-important finding.

Some conservative skeptics doubt that Trump knows the limitations his anti-regulatory agenda faces if the endangerment finding continues to exist. The finding serves as the legal backbone for climate regulation, with many interpreting it as mandating federal action to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

“I don’t think the president knows that it’s not enough to issue executive orders. He might be disappointed to know those things are still there,” said Steve Milloy, an attorney, EPA adversary and Trump EPA transition team official. “It’s still early. But there’s a lot of work left to be done. It’s not enough to say get rid of this. You’ve actually got to do it.”

Here’s a case in point: When speaking to a rally in Alabama late last month, Trump said of the Clean Power Plan, “Did you see what I did to that? Boom, gone.” It wasn’t true. The rule was very much still intact, and powerful industry trade organizations, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), were simultaneously pushing White House officials to maintain a downsized version of that very rule (Climatewire, Oct. 5).

“The NAM supports a greenhouse gas policy going forward that is narrowly tailored and consistent with the Clean Air Act,” Ross Eisenberg, NAM’s vice president of energy and resources policy, said in a statement praising news of the repeal while pushing for a replacement.


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