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Trump's EPA Chief Doubling Down On Coal And Fossil Fuels

Trump's EPA Chief Doubling Down On Coal And Fossil Fuels
Credit: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Trump-appointed head of the Environmental Protection Agency plans to repeal today an environmental protection put into effect by Obama. EPA chief Scott Pruitt told miners in Kentucky on Monday of his intention to remove a power plant rule that limits greenhouse gas emissions.

“The war against coal is over,” Pruitt assured the miners.

Attending an event in Hazard, Kentucky with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Pruitt announced that his agency would release a new proposal today:

Tomorrow, in Washington, D.C., I’ll be a signing a proposed rule to withdraw the so-called Clean Power Plan of the past administration, and thus begin the effort to withdraw that rule.

The Washington Post and other news outlets received a 43-page draft of the proposal, which argues that the EPA overstepped its legal authority in forcing utilities to reduce their carbon emissions. Much like McConnell’s many failed attempts to repeal Obamacare, Pruitt’s proposal does not offer a replacement plan for the Obama’s 2015 Clean Power Plan.

Instead, the proposal would rather remove the environmental protections currently in place that regulate carbon dioxide emissions, and then later at some point will seek public input on how best to cut emissions from power plants that run on natural gas and coal.

“Any replacement rule that the Trump administration proposes will be done carefully and properly, within the confines of the law,” EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman said in an email.

In other words, Pruitt and Trump have no intention of replacing the Clean Power Plan with environmental protections that negatively affect the coal industry anytime soon.

The repeal-and-not-replace proposal arrives months after President Trump gave Pruitt a directive to rewrite the Clean Power Plan, as part of his administration’s general policy of erasing his predecessor’s efforts to combat climate change.

Read about Pruitt's plan to remove clean energy tax credits on page 2...

Also on Monday in Kentucky, Pruitt announced his plans to remove solar and wind tax credits, which have benefited the growth of the clean energy industry. “I would do away with these incentives that we give to wind and solar,” he said.

I’d let them stand on their own and compete against coal and natural gas and other sources, and let utilities make real-time market decisions on those types of things as opposed to being propped up by tax incentives and other types of credits that occur, both in the federal level and state level.

Pruitt failed to mention the clean energy tax credits already have an expiration date. Wind power's tax credit begins phasing out this year until completely expired in 2020, and the solar incentive credit expires in 2022. He also failed to mention that while these credits have benefited solar and wind power industry growth, oil and natural gas have also benefit from their own tax credits, which he has made no announcement of repealing.

Obama's Clean Power Plan sought to slash greenhouse gas emissions, which scientists agree are fueling global warming and climate change. Environmental and public health advocates see Trump and Pruitt's new proposal as an attack on health and the environment.

With this news, Donald Trump and Scott Pruitt will go down in infamy for launching one of the most egregious attacks ever on public health, our climate, and the safety of every community in the United States,” said Michael Brune, the executive director of the Sierra Club. “He’s proposing to throw out a plan that would prevent thousands of premature deaths and tens of thousands of childhood asthma attacks every year.”