EPA Planning Clean Power Plan Withdrawal

Newswire—The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is moving forward with plans to rescind the Clean Power Plan, agency chief Scott Pruitt said today. (June 15).

The agency intends to withdraw the regulation for power plant CO2 emissions, as well as the so-called Waters of the US rule, each of which have been attacked by Republicans and industry groups as an overreach of federal authority, Pruitt said.

"We are in the process of withdrawing each of those rules," he said at a US House of Representatives appropriations subcommittee hearing.

Pruitt said he does not think EPA has the authority under the Clean Air Act to enforce the Clean Power Plan, which would require each state's power sector to meet CO2 targets for 2022-2030. President Donald Trump has long called for abolishing the standards, finalized by the EPA under former president Barack Obama.

"We have to receive authority, and direction, and process from this body," Pruitt said.

But Pruitt did not say whether or how he would replace the CO2 requirements.

"As we evaluate steps that we are going to take at the agency , it will be focused on what are the tools in the toolbox, and if there are deficiencies of the tools then we will let you know and address that accordingly," he said.

For the waters rule, which defines which water bodies are subject to federal oversight, Pruitt said EPA would issue a final rule with a new definition by the end of this year or in early 2018.

Last week, EPA sent its proposed review of the Clean Power Plan to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review. Such reviews can take about 60 days to complete, after which the agency would be able to issue its proposal.

A move to withdraw the regulations will provoke an onslaught of legal challenges from environmentalists and states. The US Supreme Court in a 2011 opinion said the Clean Air Act "speaks directly" to CO2 emissions from power plants, but critics of the Clean Power Plan have argued a footnote in that opinion creates an exception that would merit scrapping the rule.

The DC Circuit Court of Appeals in April put a 60-day delay on litigation over the Clean Power Plan, in response to a request from the Trump administration.

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