Texas Environmental Groups At Odds With Trump's EPA Over Rollback Of Obama-Era Clean Power Plan

Chris Fox
June 21, 2019 - 8:15 am

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AUSTIN (1080 KRLD) - Wednesday’s announcement by The Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that it was rolling back the Obama-era Clean Power Plan (CPP) isn’t sitting well with environmental groups in Texas.

The Sierra Club’s Chrissy Mann says President Trump’s new EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist has killed the most important climate regulations in US History. She said, “There were incentives for clean energy development, for energy efficiency programs, for all the kinds of things that really add up to communities being cleaner, safer and healthier and that’s just wiped out.”

Luke Metzger, the Executive Director of Environment Texas says the EPA’s rejection of the Clean Power Plan proves President Trump is more interested in making money for the energy industry than saving lives. He said the Trump administration’s EPA is “working to boost profits of polluting industries like coal and oil refineries and others, and that comes at the expense of regular folks who have to breathe the air and drink the water that these facilities pollute.” Metzger added that “the Clean Power Plan was designed to reduce pollution, and we know that coal is one of the dirtiest forms of fossil fuels…responsible for a major part of the pollution that’s harming our atmosphere and climate today.”

The New EPA Administrator, Andrew Wheeler said in a press release that the CPP was illegal and an example of EPA overreach and removing it should restore the rule of law and empower states to continue to reduce emissions while providing affordable and reliable energy for all Americans. Wheeler was quoted in the release saying, “We are delivering on one of President Trump’s core priorities: ensuring the American public has access to affordable, reliable energy in a manner that continues our nation’s environmental progress.” 

Wheeler is confident that eliminating the Obama plan’s strict rules cutting carbon pollution will lead to new and cleaner coal-fired power plants being built. At a Wednesday Press Conference Wheeler said, “If we don’t develop the next generation of clean coal technologies here in the United States no one else will.” Wheeler added that the pollution regulations established through the CPP for coal-fired power plants were just too costly for Americans. “The CPP would have asked low and middle income Americans to bear the cost of the previous administration’s climate plan. One analysis projected double digit electricity price increases in 40 states under the CPP.”

The EPA’s next move is to replace the CPP with a new plan to be called the Affordable Clean Energy rule (ACE). The ACE rule establishes emissions guidelines for states to use when developing plans to limit carbon dioxide (CO2) at their coal-fired power plants. Specifically, ACE identifies heat rate improvements as the best system of emission reduction (BSER) for CO2 from coal-fired power plants, and these improvements can be made at individual facilities. States will have 3 years to submit plans, which is in line with other planning timelines under the Clean Air Act.

The Clean Power Plan was immediately challenged in court when it was finalized by the Obama EPA in 2015 and ACE will now face a similar situation. Environmental groups have said they expect to fight ACE in the courts.