Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt said Monday that the agency will repeal the Clean Power Plan, a sweeping Obama-era measure that strived to improve air quality for human health and reduce dangerous greenhouse gases.
Mr. Pruitt, a longtime friend of the fossil fuel industry and outspoken foe of environmental protections, gave a puzzling explanation for the planned repeal, indicating the Clean Power Plan overstepped the EPA’s regulatory authority by playing favorites.
“When you think about what that rule meant, it was about picking winners and losers. Regulatory power should not be used by any regulatory body to pick winners and losers,” Mr. Pruitt said at a speaking engagement in Kentucky, according to CNN. “The past administration was using every bit of power and authority to use the EPA to pick winners and losers and how we generate electricity in this country. That’s wrong.”
The Clean Power Plan requires states to reduce carbon emissions based on their energy consumption while providing incentives for the implementation of clean, renewable, and low-income energy efficiency.
In addition to reducing greenhouses gasses that fuel climate change, the Clean Power Plan would also make substantial improvements for human health, preventing up to 6,600 premature deaths and eliminating 140,000 to 150,000 asthma attacks in children.
According to CNN, “When asked earlier this year on Fox News about the health consequences of doing away with the Clean Power Plan, Pruitt ducked the question and focused on how the plan would cost jobs. He argued the plan was bureaucratic overreach.”
A number of environmental groups and legislators condemned the planned repeal and vowed to fight it in court.
“A proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan without any time line or even a commitment to propose a rule to reduce carbon pollution, isn’t a step forward, it’s a wholesale retreat from EPA’s legal, scientific and moral obligation to address the threats of climate change,” said Gina McCarthy, the EPA Administrator under President Obama. She said the proposal is “just plain backwards.”
Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said Mr. Pruitt and President Trump are preparing “one of the most egregious attacks” on public health and safety, according to CNN.
“No matter who is in the White House, the EPA is legally required to limit dangerous carbon pollution, and the Clean Power Plan is an achievable, affordable way to do that,” Mr. Brune said. “It is a key element in continuing the progress moving toward clean energy and retiring coal.”