The Trump administration has made no secret of its disdain for climate science and clean power. Donald Trump famously called climate change a hoax cooked up by China. Trump’s EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt told the Wall Street Journal in February that he expected to promptly withdraw the Clean Power Plan.
Last week, President Trump’s March 28th Executive Order on Energy Independence, which calls for a review of the Obama-Era Clean Power Plan (CPP), was put into action and chunks of content from EPA’s website were stripped out. Visitors to the site were informed that content will be replaced with information more in line with the views of the Trump administration.
“As EPA renews its commitment to human health and clean air, land, and water, our website needs to reflect the views of the leadership of the agency,” said J.P. Freire, Associate Administrator for Public Affairs. “We want to eliminate confusion by removing outdated language first and making room to discuss how we’re protecting the environment and human health by partnering with states and working within the law.”
For instance, the 9-page document laying out the Clean Power Plan, a 2015 rule under Section 111 of the Clean Air Act establishing emission guidelines to limit carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired power plants, is gone. The URL www.epa.gov/cleanpowerplan rolls over to https://www.epa.gov/Energy-Independence. The page is titled Complying with President Trump’s Executive Order on Energy Independence.
Now a 1-page document, it states that complying with Trump’s EO will protect “thousands of jobs” and strengthen energy security while ensuring the new EPA’s policies provide clean air and clean water for American citizens. It goes on to say that the EO signals a “commitment to the rule of law, cooperative federalism, and sound scientific rulemaking at EPA.” Cooperative federalism is a division of responsibilities between the state and federal governments.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt submitted a proposed rule to the Federal Register titled “Review of the Clean Power Plan” and dated April 4, 2017, which announced his agency’s review of The Clean Power Plan and its intent to initiate proceedings to suspend, revise or rescind the rule, if it deems fit.
The issue appears to be the addition by the Obama-era EPA’s goals to regulate carbon dioxide.
Up until 2015, the EPA was authorized under the Clean Air Act to issue New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) limiting air pollution from new sources that pose a public health threat and regulate such power plants in order to limit air pollutants such as particulate matter, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide.
With the addition of the Clean Power Plan Rule, the EPA could now prescribe regulations on limiting carbon dioxide and require each state to submit plans to limit carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired power plants.
In February of 2016, 27 States and other parties challenged the EPA’s legal authority by seeking judicial review of the CPP in the U.S. Court of Appeals D.C. Circuit. The Supreme Court stayed implementation of the CPP pending judicial review so states and other interested parties have not been required to work towards compliance, and the case is currently pending in the D.C. Circuit.
Meanwhile, Pruitt sent letters to governors letting them know that EPA does not expect the states to dedicate resources to complying with the CPP. He has also launched an agenda focusing on protecting the environment, “sensible” regulations that allow economic growth and engagement with state and local partners.
The page concludes with a statement that EPA.gov will continue to be updated as progress is made comply with President Trump’s executive order.