WASHINGTON — “The regulatory assault is over.”
That is what U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt told coal miners Thursday at the Harvey Mine in Sycamore, Pennsylvania. This is just one line of a speech Pruitt gave that included changes the agency looks to make under the Trump administration.
As a presidential candidate, President Donald Trump pledged to create coal mining jobs, even holding rallies with official campaign signs reading, “Trump digs coal.” After taking office, Trump signed executive orders aimed at eliminating regulations passed under the Obama administration, specifically the Stream Protection Rule and the Clean Power Plan.
“The miners are coming back,” Trump said during a March campaign rally in Louisville.
At the Harvey Mine, which is part of the largest producing underground coal site in North America, Pruitt announced the agency’s new Back-to-Basics agenda.
“The coal industry was nearly devastated by years of regulatory overreach,” Pruitt said to 100 workers. “But with new direction from President Trump, we are helping to turn things around for these miners and for many other hard working Americans.”
The agenda is based around finding measures to “create sensible regulations that enhance economic growth,” which includes analyzing regulations passed by the previous administration and reviewing chemicals so companies can sell the products on the market.
The EPA would also partner with states in order to meet air quality standards, clean up toxic waste sites and improve water infrastructure.
“We are hopeful that Administrator Pruitt will work with to stop the systematic regulatory approach to dismantle industry, and work with us to continue responsible mining and contribute billions to Pennsylvania’s economy,” said Rachel Gleason, executive director of Pennsylvania Coal Alliance in a statement.
The administration plans to do more than just what was spoken about in Pennsylvania; in a letter to coal industry leaders, Pruitt said he was against 2015 regulations regarding water pollution from coal-fired power plants.
Companies would have been required to reduce the amount of toxic heavy metals being released from plants into water sources. Plants would need to have had utilities for the new standards ready when they applied for a new Clean Water Act permit, which could be by 2018 or 2023.
This is another step the Trump administration is making to change regulations impacting the coal industry; Trump signed an executive order Feb. 16 repealing the Stream Protection Rule, which required additional mine reclamation work, data gathering and waterway monitoring near mining sites.
Additionally, Trump asked the EPA through a Mar. 28 executive order to review the Clean Power Plan. The regulation established carbon dioxide emission rates at coal-power power plants in an effort to reduce emissions by 32 percent come 2030.