White House readies executive order to roll back Obama energy regs

On Tuesday, President Trump will announce new executive orders that target EPA regulations that hindered electricity production in the United States.  The regulations were created by the Obama administration as part of an anti-fossil fuel strategy to combat global warming.

With the installation of a new EPA chief, Scott Priutt – a confirmed global warming skeptic – the electricity production sector of the economy is about to receive a much needed shot in the arm.

Pruitt says the White House plan is both "pro-jobs and pro-environment" and, unlike with the Obama plan, will not be "tethered" to the Paris Climate Agreement.


The plan is also considered important to helping the United States meet the goals set out in a climate treaty signed in Paris in 2015. While the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the plan from going into effect to allow legal challenges to move forward, the new executive order could send a negative signal to other countries in the Paris accord about the United States' commitment to the deal.

Pruitt, however, argues the order is not bound to the international agreement.

"The Clean Power Plan is not tethered to ... the Paris Accords," he told Stephanopoulos. "And so this is an effort to undo the unlawful approach the previous administration engaged in, and to do it right going forward with the mindset of being pro-growth and pro-environment. And we can achieve both."

When pressed on whether the new executive order would face court challenges, Pruitt said he isn't worried about potential legal ramifications.

"This Clean Power Plan is something that the Supreme Court, as you know, has said is likely unlawful," he said. "And so there's been a stay against this Clean Power Plan. So our actions, starting on Tuesday, shortly after the executive order, will make sure that whatever steps we take in the future will be pro-growth, pro-environment, but within the framework of the Clean Air Act, and it will be legal."

The plan is being challenged in the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Supporters of the regulations argue in briefs that they will "secure critically important reductions" in carbon dioxide emissions from what are by far "the largest emitters in the United States -- fossil-fuel-fired power plants."

But challengers say the rule exceeds the EPA's statutory authority and goes beyond the bounds set by the Constitution.

The big question for many is how the Trump orders will impact the dying coal industry.  Unfortunately, there are many other factors that have driven down the cost of coal, including the growing availability of cheap natural gas and a worldwide glut of coal supplies.  Those are market forces that won't be overcome by presidential orders. 

But without the burdensome, job-destroying Obama-era regulations, power plants should be able to put a lid on rising electricity costs.  Anyone who pays an electric bill knows that during the eight years of the Obama administration, there were double-digit increases in the cost of electricity.  The rollback of Obama's energy plan will allow plants to produce electricity more cheaply, hopefully passing on those savings to consumers.

There are other rules created by the EPA that need to be addressed, including action on carbon emissions limits for manufacturers.  Unshackling the productive potential of America should be Trump's number-one priority going forward.

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