U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt announced Monday that he will sign a new rule overriding the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era effort to limit carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants.
“The war on coal is over,” said Pruitt, speaking before a Hazard, Kentucky audience at Whayne Supply, a company that sells coal mining supplies. Pruitt said no federal agency “should ever use its authority to declare war on any sector of our economy.”
Pruitt attended the event with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican representing Kentucky since 1985.
Since his election as Oklahoma’s state attorney general, Pruitt has fought to rollback the Clean Power Plan. Prior to his political appointment in the Trump Administration, Pruitt was directing the 27-state litigation by the National Association of Attorneys General who sued to stop then-President Obama’s 2014 push to limit carbon emissions.
Pruitt is closely aligned with Oklahoma’s oil and gas industry, including a close relationship with Trump energy advisor and oil billionaire Harold Hamm, the chief executive officer of Continental Resources.
Pruitt, a vocal skeptic of climate change, rejects scientific consensus that man-man emissions from burning fossil fuels are the primary driver of global climate change.
President Trump promised to kill the Clean Power Plan during the 2016 campaign as part of his broader pledge to revive the nation’s struggling coal industry. Now Pruitt is expected to declare that the Obama-era rule exceeded federal law by setting emissions standards that power plants could not reasonably meet.
The withdrawal of the Clean Power Plan is the latest in a series of moves by President Trump and EPA Administrator Pruitt to dismantle the Obama Administration’s climate policy, including the delay of rules limiting levels of toxic pollution in smokestack emissions and wastewater discharges from coal-burning power plants.
Earlier this year, President Trump announced that he would exit the landmark Paris climate accord. Nearly 200 countries have committed to combat global warming by reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.
Government statistics show that coal mines currently employ around 52,000 workers nationally — a modest one percent increase since President Trump was sworn into office. Those numbers are minimal in comparison to the jobs created by building clean power infrastructure such as wind turbines and solar panels.
Many companies around the world are taking an opposite approach to fossil fuels. China has jumped on the clean power bandwagon and abandoned coal projects in favor of wind and solar infrastructure projects.