WASHINGTON — U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt said Monday he will sign an order Tuesday requesting a repeal of the Clean Power Plan, a policy aimed at reducing power plant emissions.
Pruitt announced the policy change during a visit to Hazard, Kentucky.
“The war on coal is over,” he remarked.
Former President Barack Obama pushed the Clean Power Plan beginning in 2014 as a way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. States would have individual targets they would have to meet, though numerous ways to reach those levels, including moving away from coal-powered plants and substituting existing plants with natural gas and renewable energy facilities.
The new proposal, which was obtained by multiple media outlets, stated the repeal is needed because the Clean Power Plan exceeded the federal government’s authority.
“The EPA proposes to take this action because it proposes to determine that the rule exceeds its authority under the statute, that those portions of the rule which arguably do not exceed its authority are not severable and separately implementable,” the rule said.
While serving as the attorney general of Oklahoma, Pruitt and more than two dozen attorneys general filed suit over the Clean Power Plan’s implementation.
The U.S. Supreme Court blocked the order from taking order as the lawsuits were being reviewed.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey was one of the attorneys general who sued the government regarding the policy.
“From the very beginning, I said the Obama Power Plan was blatant and unlawful federal overreach,” Morrisey said in a statement.
“I was humbled to have led the state-based coalition that defeated the Power Plan in court through an unprecedented stay at the Supreme Court and am excited that the Trump Administration is taking the final step to kill this terrible, job-killing regulation.”
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said in a press release he was “pleased” with Pruitt’s decision.
“For eight years, the misguided Obama-era policies attacked coal and our hard-working coal miners,” he added. “West Virginia and the United States should lead the global clean-energy economy and with an administration working as a partner, instead of an opponent, we are poised to do just that.”
Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., said the Clean Power Plan picked winners and losers “at the expense of West Virginia’s jobs.”
“I will continue to work with President Trump on solutions that will move West Virginia forward, create more jobs, and return the EPA to its core mission,” he continued.
Morrisey and Jenkins previously announced their Senate campaigns to challenge Manchin in next year’s election.
Gov. Jim Justice also released a statement praising the repeal.
“Coal has been steadily recovering, we’ve seen an upturn in severance taxes and this decision will clearly help put our coal miners back to work,” Justice said. “President Trump promised me he was going to take care of our miners and he is doing just that.”
Jodie Van Horn, director of Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 Campaign, said this will not stop the growth of solar and wind energy.
“Nearly 50 U.S. cities have now committed to be powered entirely with clean energy as more and more communities see the tangible, local benefits of clean and renewable sources of energy,” she said in a statement.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said following Pruitt’s announcement he will lead a coalition to defend the Clean Power Plan.
“Fuel-burning power plants are one of our nation’s largest sources of climate change pollution, and common-sense science — and the law — dictate that EPA take action to cut these emissions,” he said.
Trump announced in June the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, an international accord aimed at keeping the global temperature increase below two degrees Celsius. Nicaragua and Syria have also not signed the agreement.