Pruitt expected to propose Clean Power Plant repeal next week — official

Source: Robin Bravender, E&E News reporter • Posted: Thursday, October 5, 2017

The details of the Trump administration’s long-awaited plans to kill President Obama’s signature climate rule are expected next week, an administration official told E&E News.

U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is preparing to publicly reveal his strategy for dismantling the Clean Power Plan, a rule to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. The announcement will consist of a proposal to repeal the rule and a broad request for comment about what ought to replace it, the official said.

The Trump administration has made the repeal of the Clean Power Plan one of its top priorities. When he was Oklahoma’s attorney general, Pruitt helped lead the lawsuit against the Obama administration’s rule, and Trump has signed an executive order directing EPA to review the regulation. At a rally last month in Huntsville, Ala., Trump said of the Clean Power Plan, “Did you see what I did to that? Boom, gone.”

Meanwhile, Trump’s political appointees have been grappling with how exactly to carry that out. Some industry representatives and conservatives want the rule torpedoed, while many others have urged the administration to put forward a narrow replacement rule that offers them certainty about how they’ll be regulated.

There was broad speculation that EPA could put forward a proposed replacement rule focusing on increased efficiency at utilities at the same time it announced its plans to repeal the regulation. But the administration won’t put forward a preferred option when it announces the rollback, said the official.

“They’ll accept comment on everything from no action to the Clean Power Plan,” one industry source told E&E News last week. That person said the administration will encourage people to “give us your best shot” regarding what — if anything — should take the climate rule’s place (Climatewire, Sept. 27).

Some sources believe the Trump administration’s preferred approach is an efficiency standard for power plants, but getting such a rule in place would take time, particularly if the administration is adding a period to solicit comments.

Asked about the upcoming proposal today, EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman said, “We have no updates to share.”

One issue that observers will be watching closely: how the administration will calculate the costs and benefits of its proposal.

The Obama administration determined that every dollar spent to comply with the Clean Power Plan could potentially yield more than $6 in benefits, in part from averting premature deaths, asthma attacks and other health problems.

The Trump administration is expected to release an overhauled look at the costs of the Obama-era regulation showing a higher price tag and smaller benefits. That assessment will likely be released with its planned repeal (Climatewire, Sept. 25).

The administration is facing an Oct. 7 deadline to update a federal appeals court on its plans for rolling back the rule, which is at the center of a major lawsuit that’s currently on hold. Some observers speculated that the administration would announce its next steps ahead of that deadline, but that now appears unlikely. EPA has told the court it expects to announce its next steps this fall.

Reuters reported today that EPA distributed a document to members of its Regulatory Steering Committee saying it intends to solicit input about “developing a rule similarly intended to reduce CO2 emissions from existing fossil fuel electric utility generating units.”