The Trump administration is creeping closer to a future without President Obama’s historic climate change rule.
On Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency sent a proposed rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget that would replace the Clean Power Plan.
The new rule is expected to be “industry-friendly,” reported The Hill, and will likely achieve less in terms of carbon reduction. Changes may include a sole focus on “improving coal-plant efficiency,” wrote Politico—making plants cheaper to run—rather than the sector-wide improvements put forth in the Obama version.
The new rule’s draft isn’t public yet, according to The Hill, but will be opened up for comment after OMB’s review, though we don’t know when.
Obama’s contentious Clean Power Plan sought to reduce climate change-causing pollution from US power plants. Finalized in 2015, it was a key tenet of Obama’s agenda to lower carbon emissions from America’s power sector to 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. Doing so would require big changes for the industry—enforcing standards for power plants and helping states to set their own benchmarks.
In December, the EPA under Scott Pruitt announced its intent to replace the Clean Power Plan (Pruitt had joined lawsuits against the plan as Oklahoma’s attorney general). “Consistent with our commitment to the rule of law, we’ve already set in motion an assessment of the previous administration’s questionable legal basis in our proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan,” Pruitt said at the time.
When the EPA said it would repeal the plan last year, the public was allowed to comment and many voiced their disapproval.
“How could anything be more important and basic than having clean air and water? Taking environmental protections away is the last thing we need,” wrote one citizen.
“Dear Environmental Protection Agency: Just writing to remind you that your job is to secure clean air, water, affordable energy, and healthier lives for the AMERICAN PEOPLE, not to secure the last gasp for your fossil-fuel allies in their dying industries,” wrote another.
The new proposal, according to the New York Times, was finalized on the eve of Pruitt’s resignation.
It remains to be seen how closely EPA’s new leader, Andrew Wheeler, will align with Pruitt on the issue.
“I think as we move forward on a potential replacement for the Clean Power Plan, you’re going to see us taking a hard look at what the act says and the authorities the act gives us, and we’ll put something forward that follows the law,” he told the Washington Post.