“The war on coal is over.”
The announcement was made Monday by the Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Speaking from Kentucky, Pruitt said the agency was working to roll back Obama-era regulations on carbon emissions from power plants.
Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan was finalized in 2015, with its intent being to shift states away from relying on energy sources like coal toward more environmentally-friendly alternatives.
“The war on coal is over,” Pruitt said. “Tomorrow in Washington, D.C., I will be signing a proposed rule to roll back the Clean Power Plan. No better place to make that announcement than Hazard, Kentucky.”
The repeal proposal was filed in the Federal Register on Tuesday, marking the United States’ continued shift away from the global effort to combat climate change.
Pruitt’s announcement comes as a sort of fulfillment both for the EPA chief himself and President Trump, the latter of whom campaigned on the promise that he’d roll back Barack Obama’s policies on coal and climate.
While acting as the Attorney General of Oklahoma – the position Pruitt vacated before being confirmed to his current posting at the EPA – Pruitt had assisted dozens of other states in challenging the dictates laid out in the Clean Power Plan. During his tenure as AG, he frequently acted as an advocate for Oklahoma’s energy industry.
According to The New York Times, coal- and natural gas-fired plants account for about one-third of the United States’ total carbon dioxide emissions. The Clean Power Plan was designed to reduce emissions from such plants by 32 percent by 2030.
Pruitt’s approach to potentially repealing the Plan’s mandates revolve around the same arguments made by the power industry in their initial opposition – that the EPA doesn’t have the authority to ask plants to reduce emissions by taking action outside the plants themselves. Industry groups as well as Pruitt, while AG, said the same.
Jody Freeman, director of the environmental law program at Harvard, said Pruitt and the administration’s decision seemed to indicate a shift away from renewable energy and back toward fossil fuel.
“You see a pretty powerful message. Disavow any effort to control greenhouse gases in the power sector, and instead, intervene in the market to promote coal,” said Freeman. “It’s a wow.”