During his campaign for the presidency, Donald Trump repeatedly promised he would save the nation’s struggling coal industry by rolling back regulations enacted during the Obama years, and he has made strong efforts to keep his word. But the extent to what the President would be able to do to keep this pledge was always severely limited, by the constitutional limits on presidential powers, the vagaries of the regulatory process, the ability by opponents of his priorities to tie anything he tries to do up in the court system for years, and by the realities of the marketplace.
So it was somewhat ironic and telling that the following two announcements came within a few days of one another:
- On October 6, Luminant announced it would be permanently closing its huge, 1800 mwh coal-fired Monticello power plant in Titus County, Texas by January 2018; and
- On October 9, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced his agency would formally propose a new rule to replace the Obama era Clean Power Plan (CPP), following up on the executive order issued by President Trump on March 27.
Mr. Pruitt admitted his agency has no firm proposed substitute at this point, but rather will seek public comment and participation in developing a plan for reducing power plant emissions that would ultimately replace the CPP. Regardless of how that process of public input is conducted, the EPA’s action will be met by strong resistance, as evidenced by the typically inflammatory statement issued by Micheal Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club, as cited by the Washington Post:
“With this news, Donald Trump and Scott Pruitt will go down in infamy for launching one of the most egregious attacks ever on public health, our climate, and the safety of every community in the United States. He’s proposing to throw out a plan that would prevent thousands of premature deaths and tens of thousands of childhood asthma attacks every year.”
Mr. Pruitt can rest assured that his proposal to repeal and replace the CPP will be challenged in the federal courts at every conceivable opportunity not only by anti-development groups like Sierra Club, but also by the many Democratic state attorneys general who have already coordinated suits against several other Trump Administration energy and environment-related proposals.