Energy & Environment

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt used a trip to Kentucky coal country to announce the Trump administration’s plans to dismantle a regulation that sought to limit carbon pollution.

Pruitt visited Hazard, Kentucky, to make official what had long been anticipated: that he plans to halt implementation of the Clean Power Plan. The Obama-era regulation aimed to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants in an effort to stem the effects of climate change.

“No better place to make that announcement than Hazard, Kentucky,” Pruitt said to applause from an audience of regional coal industry supporters.

The coal associations from Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia and top state officials have been outspoken in their disapproval of the rule. They maintain that the Clean Power Plan is a symbolic gesture that would have no real impact on climate change while having negative economic effects on regions that rely heavily on the coal industry.

The plan would have required reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2030, but allowed states some flexibility on how to achieve those targets.  

West Virginia’s attorney general led a coalition of states in the legal challenge against the rule, effectively getting the U.S. Supreme Court to halt its implementation.

Pruitt said the EPA will request comment from the public on whether a new rule should be crafted to replace the Clean Power Plan.

Meanwhile, energy analysts and industry leaders indicate that ending the rule is not likely to have a big effect on energy choices. Utility company officials say market forces still make a combination of cheaper natural gas, improved efficiency, and some renewable energy more attractive than coal.