New Plan Levels Playing Field for W.Va. Coal
Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it followed through on President Donald Trump’s executive order to review and repeal the Clean Power Plan (CPP).
From its inception, the CPP was a total overreach of the federal bureaucracy. That’s why West Virginia led 24 states in fighting the rule in court, arguing that the Obama EPA overstepped its legal authorities under the Clean Air Act in proposing it.
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed, and imposed a stay on the implementation of the CPP. Bipartisan majorities in both the Senate and the House of Representatives also passed legislation I introduced that would have voided the CPP. The rule survived, temporarily, only because of President Obama’s veto pen.
As many West Virginians know, the CPP was stacked against coal-fired generation. The plan would have choked off the development of new clean coal technologies and forced many existing coal plants to close. Had the plan been implemented, many more West Virginia miners, power plant workers, and employees in related industries would likely have lost their jobs. And our state’s economy, which is now on the mend, would be in a weaker position
Fortunately, under the leadership of President Trump, the EPA is ending the war on coal that was so devastating to our state.
While the Obama EPA failed to visit West Virginia to hear our concerns, the Trump EPA came to Charleston last year to hear from concerned citizens on both sides of the issue regarding replacement of the CPP. The comments received in that and other listening sessions informed the proposal released last week.
The Trump EPA’s proposed replacement plan, the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule, will focus on empowering individual states, putting an end to the era of one-size-fits-all plans. The proposal allows each state to issue a plan, plant by plant, to determine how each can reduce its emissions. Every plant doing what it can-considering its remaining useful life, the market’s need for its generation capacity, and what technologies are available and financially feasible-not only makes sense, but it ensures emissions reductions without the severe economic effects CPP would have imposed.
Think about it this way: Instead of some Washington bureaucrat demanding states upend their economies to meet unachievable regulatory standards, our states will work with the EPA to clean up our energy sector. This is the sort of federalist approach enshrined in the Constitution and our hallmark environmental statutes, including the Clean Air Act.
In addition to being rooted in law, this approach works: Since enactment of the Clean Air Act the emission of six priority air pollutants has been reduced by 73 percent, even while GDP has grown 2.5 times. Since 2010, carbon dioxide emissions in the United States have fallen by seven percent, even as global emissions have increased. All of this was achieved without the illegal approach of the CPP.
These achievements demonstrate that West Virginians don’t have to choose between a clean environment and a thriving economy.
We demand both, and with this plan, both are achievable. The Trump administration’s plan allows West Virginia and other energy-rich states to pursue responsible emissions reduction while still providing reliable power at an affordable cost-power our national economy depends on.
We know that we can meet the economic and environmental challenges of tomorrow if we are given a fair fight.
The Affordable Clean Energy proposal finally levels the regulatory playing field for West Virginia’s energy economy.