Failure to Protect

James Rudolph, Opinions Editor

On Oct. 9, Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, signed off on repealing President Barrack Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), which heavily regulated greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

This counts as another win President Trump, who signed an executive order on March 28 to put the CPP under review, as they follow through on the promise of reverse Obama-era policies.

In a statement, the E.P.A said the repeal will facilitate the development of U.S energy resources and reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens associated with the development of those resources.

Pruitt has been a long-time opponent of the E.P.A. During his time as the Attorney General of Oklahoma, he sued the agency 13 times. His argument for the repeal has been the same argument he made for years: the Obama administration overstepped his legal authority to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

A leaked draft of the proposal estimates that the country would save $33 billion by not complying with the regulation and rejecting health benefits the Obama administration originally calculated.  The repeal follows President Trumps plans of dismantling Obama-era policies and free the U.S. from its promises with the Paris Climate Accord.

Long has Trump promised to dismantle the E.P.A, and placing Pruitt at the helm of the agency cripples their ability to regulate. The repeal would also hinder states in their own regulation from fulfilling their promise of following the Paris Climate Accord.

That doesn’t mean individual environmental groups and Democratic states will follow along. There are already multiple groups, and several states, who plan to challenge the repeal in federal court. Some states have even met the goals of the CCP, like California and New York, and plan to move ahead as they make their own climate policies.

Colorado plans to exceed the goals set by the CCP, as the state was closing coal plants early and moving into more wind and other renewable energy fields.

“We have dramatically cleaner air and we are saving money,” said Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado, “my question to the E.P.A would be, ‘Which of that part don’t you like?’”

While Industry groups applaud Pruitt’s plan, but indicated they want a plan that replaces the CCP, but still provides modest regulations for emissions.

Karen A. Herbert, president of the Chamber of Commerce’s Global-Energy Institute, said, “We have always believed that there is a better way to approach greenhouse gas emissions reductions. We welcome the opportunity for business to be at the table with the E.P.A and other stakeholders to develop an approach that lowers emissions, preserves America’s energy advantage and respects the bound of the Clean Air Act.”

Even in the absence of the rule, many state utilities across the nation opted to shift to natural gas, wind and solar energies, driven by cost concerns and state-level policies.

A great example of this is the state of Arkansas, a state that challenged the CCP in court. Chairman of the Arkansas Public Service Commission said his state is in the process of shifting from coal to cheaper natural gas. “Even if they repeal the Clean Power Plan, or replace it with something that doesn’t require us to do much, you still have to reckon with the fact that regulations on carbon are coming,” Thomas said, “So we need to develop options to deal with that other than sticking our heads in the sand and hoping we can just file lawsuits forever.”

The E.P.A is no longer protecting anything. With Pruitt destroying the E.P.A from within, their mission of protecting human health and the environment can’t be accomplished. As the Trump administration claims a victory, and Pruitt claims a personal victory, it falls on the states and environmental groups to continue working towards climate preservation.