Trump’s Repeal of the Clear Power Plan

on April 05, 2017 at 8:27 AM

Last week, President Trump signed an executive order effectively terminating the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, in keeping with a campaign promise to undo overburdening regulations slowly killing carbon-based jobs across the country.

This rule was not without contention, however. Even the Supreme Court blocked the rule from implementation in 2016 after dozens of states voiced concern. These concerns were in part due to government overreach and federal imposition upon the states. However, many states also cited job loss and economic slowdown as a potential externality of the legislation, especially those states where coal-based jobs comprise a large part of the local economy.

The original Clean Power Plan specifically targeted coal-fired power plants, requiring that existing plants cut harmful emissions. It mandated a 32% reduction in carbon emissions, 90% reduction in sulfur dioxide, and 72% reduction of nitrogen oxides, all by 2030. It also included a moratorium on licenses to build new coal mines on federal land. All of these measures make profit more difficult for coal plants, which in turn causes jobs to be lost.

The intention of the plan was to reduce smog and soot that adversely affect health from the atmosphere. The EPA’s numbers claim that the plan would have prevented 3,600 premature deaths, 1,700 heart attacks, 90,000 asthma attacks, and 300,000 missed work days and school days each year. It is unsure how they arrived at these figures.

The officials who first released the plan claim that it gives the states the flexibility they need in terms of tackling climate change and restricting emissions. However, opponents clearly do not see it that way. The states suing are doing so because they do not think the federal government has the authority to put forth a piece of sweeping legislation, when the needs of the states are so diverse. Especially when such measures would lead to higher electricity costs and would reduce the reliability of the grid.

Now, President Trump has heeded to the wishes of those first states who opposed the legislation, with a full repeal of the plan in motion. He hopes that lifting the restrictions on carbon-based jobs will keep the cost of electricity more affordable, while also revitalizing  dying part of the economy – both for the country at large, and also for individual communities who are especially impacted by environmental regulations, as they do not have the capital or resources to work around the regulations.

The White House released the budget outline for the incoming fiscal year, titled the America First budget. It includes de-funding the Clean Power Plan, first announced by President Obama in 2015. As it stands, 24 states are suing for the overturn of the plan.

The language of the budget is hopeful, and refocuses the EPA on protecting clean air through the air program without burdening the American economy in the process. Along a similar vein, Scott Pruitt, Trump’s EPA administrator, has been very vocal about being both pro-jobs and pro-environment.

The plan also demonstrates that federal lawyers are unlikely to pick up the battle on behalf of the Obama-era rule, which means environmental groups will have to figure out a way to fight the executive order themselves. Unsurprisingly, these groups are citing Trump’s desire to appeal big oil companies at the expense of the everyday American, who, according to them, will suffer as a result.

However, individual states are largely unaffected by the repeal of this plan; many have claimed that they will continue their own clean energy initiatives, which they can tailor to their own unique needs. They prefer to eschew the plan that is intended to apply to the country as a whole, which is unlikely to help many places.