On Monday, Oct. 9, Scott Pruitt, the president of the Environmental Protection Agency, announced that he will sign a proposal to repeal former President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan, Obama's legacy legislation to curb greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. President Donald Trump promised to repeal the Obama-era plan, which would have encouraged states to move away from coal and on to sources of electricity that create fewer carbon emissions. With this bill, among other Obama-era bills that are slowly being repealed, it's worth asking the question, what is the Clean Power Plan that the Trump administration plans to withdraw from?
Mr. Pruitt, during his statement, said, "The war on coal is over. 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.”
Pruitt is certainly right about that much. This is great news for Hazard, Kentucky, a small coal-mining town that is home to many displaced coal miners. Coal and natural-gas-fired power plants make up about one third of America's carbon dioxide emissions. Under the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan, the U.S. would reduce those emissions by about 32 percent below the levels in 2005, when the plan was enacted, by 2030. This would happen by investing in renewable energy, natural gas, energy efficiency, and nuclear power. The goal was for states to shift away from coal-fired energy sources. Prior to the plan, there were no rules in regards to how much carbon pollution was dumped into the atmosphere by power plants, which is one of the primary causes of global warming.
While this repeal has been in the works for a while, people on Twitter are no less outraged about it.
The announcement to repeal comes as no shock, considering President Trump in early September made public his plans to pull out of the Paris Climate agreement, as well as his dismissal of climate change altogether. The international accord, which was signed by over 160 parties, aims to tackle global warming that contributes to heat waves and sea-level rises, with each country claiming responsibility for their own contribution. With the decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan, Trump will definitely not be able to uphold his end of the Paris Climate Deal if he stayed.
This is all great news for coal miners in states like Kentucky. After Obama's decision, many states took their own initiative to start climate policies that reduced carbon emissions on their own. Coal miners across the U.S., understandably, are fearful of losing their jobs at the expense of saving the environment.
There has been some pushback in the past on Obama's rule, however. Many argued that the Obama administration exceeded its legal authority in an effort to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Pruitt has also argued that the Obama administration overestimated the benefits of this plan by factoring in the efforts of other countries to curb global warming and reduce harmful air pollutants other than carbon dioxide.
While the good news came to the hopeful coal miners of Hazard, Kentucky, many believe that the decline of coal will continue, regardless of this repeal. Across the country, utilities in states like New York and California, as well as the general Northeast region, are shifting out of coal and into natural gas, and wind and solar-powered electric supply. People are anticipating a major pushback from big environmental groups and Democratic states. Additionally, many are skeptical that the Trump administration could completely finalize a new rule by the 2020 election, which, if not, could mean new climate change rules, either more strict or lenient, starting from square one.