Replacing The Obama EPA’s Job-Killing Coal Regulation

The Trump Administration Is Doing Away With An Obama EPA Regulation That ‘Would Have Weaponized A Federal Agency To Bury Energy Producers,’ ‘Left Higher Electricity Costs In Its Wake,’ And Cost American Jobs


“The Environmental Protection Agency finalized its replacement for Obama’s signature climate policy on Wednesday with a rule officials say will still reduce greenhouse gas emissions … The Clean Power Plan, which never went into effect, was a signature policy proposed by President Barack Obama to reduce greenhouse gas emissions … The policy would have required states to submit extensive plans on how they would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by requiring power plants to install new technology or switching to more renewable energy sources. But under President Donald Trump, the agency says the Clean Power Plan went too far by trying to shut down coal-fired power plants.” (“EPA Finalizes Power Plant Rules To Replace Obama’s Signature Climate Change Policy,” ABC News, 6/19/2019)

  • “The replacement, called the Affordable Clean Energy rule, would make it easier for the facility to stay open by letting states set their own goals on targets to reduce releases of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. States can choose from a list of EPA-approved options to improve existing coal-fired power plants … Administration officials said the announcement fulfills one of President Donald Trump’s campaign promises to repeal the Clean Power Plan …” (“EPA Finalizes Power Plant Rules To Replace Obama’s Signature Climate Change Policy,” ABC News, 6/19/2019)

EPA ADMINISTRATOR ANDREW WHEELER: “Today, we are delivering on one of President Trump’s core priorities: ensuring the American public has access to affordable, reliable energy in a manner that continues our nation’s environmental progress. Unlike the Clean Power Plan, ACE adheres to the Clean Air Act and gives states the regulatory certainty they need to continue to reduce emissions and provide a dependable, diverse supply of electricity that all Americans can afford. When ACE is fully implemented, we expect to see U.S. power sector CO2 emissions fall by as much as 35 percent below 2005 levels.” (EPA, Press Release, 6/19/2019)

SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “[I]mplementation of the so-called ‘Clean Power Plan’ was frozen by a Supreme Court stay more than three years ago in 2016…. It would have weaponized a federal agency to bury energy producers and all those who depend on them under one-size-fits-all regulations with duplicative mandates and unrealistic timelines. And as production of the most affordable and reliable energy available to American families dried up, it would have left higher electricity costs in its wake. Higher domestic power prices would mean fewer American jobs here at home, with no meaningful effect on global emissions. Any rational observer would have concluded that this regulation was all pain for no gain -- just good American jobs being shipped overseas.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 6/19/2019)

  • SEN. McCONNELL: “I look forward to the administration rolling out a new policy that upholds the rule of law, keeps the EPA within its statutory role, and encourages American energy reliability and affordability.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 6/19/2019)

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R-WY), Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair: “The Affordable Clean Energy rule is good news for Wyoming. The Trump administration’s rule follows the law and lowers emissions. The so-called ‘Clean Power Plan’ would have mandated the shutdown of power plants and increased energy costs for families in Wyoming and across the country. I look forward to working with President Trump, Administrator Wheeler, and the state of Wyoming to implement this common sense replacement to the Clean Power Plan.” (U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Press Release, 6/19/2019)

KENTUCKY COAL ASSOCIATION President Tyler White: “We thank Administrator Wheeler and the EPA for finalizing the ACE rule. For a state like Kentucky which produces nearly 75% of its power from coal, the CPP would have devastated the economic vitality of our state’s ability to produce affordable reliable energy. By replacing the legally flawed CPP with the ACE Rule, we will ensure states have the ability to regulate emissions in an efficient and logical manner. For a state like Kentucky we are able to produce affordable and abundant energy which feeds to the industrial ecosystem and provides affordable electricity for the citizens of the Commonwealth.” (Kentucky Coal Association, Press Release, 6/19/2019)


The Replacement Rule Is The Culmination Of Years Of Work By Leader McConnell To Block And Replace The Obama EPA’s Regulations That Would Have Shuttered Coal Plants And Cost Jobs

SEN. McCONNELL: “This was a bad idea that many of us here in the Senate fought tooth and nail. Back in 2013 and 2014, after President Obama’s EPA Administrator refused my request to come meet with Kentuckians, I held hearings in Kentucky about the negative impacts the plan would have. I worked with governors to hold off on implementation. I helped spearhead an amicus brief in the legal proceedings, and led on legislation to overturn the rule.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 6/19/2019)


Leader McConnell’s ‘Aggressive Campaign To Block’ The Regulations

November 2013: Leader McConnell brings the concerns of Kentucky’s coal country to an EPA hearing on President Obama’s coal regulations in Washington.

  • SEN. McCONNELL: “I have asked the EPA to hold a hearing in Pikeville, Kentucky, to hear the concerns of coal country. But since the EPA hasn’t responded, I decided—on behalf of Kentucky’s coal miners and their families—that I would bring their concerns to you myself. If the EPA won’t come to listen to us, we’ll come here, to the EPA. By now it is clear that [the Obama] administration and [the EPA] have declared a War on Coal. For Kentucky, this means a war on jobs and our state’s economy…. [W]e’re here to remind you that coal keeps the lights on for Kentucky—and the nation.” (Sen. McConnell, Press Release, 11/07/2013)

December 2013: Leader McConnell holds a hearing on President Obama’s coal regulations in Kentucky coal country because the EPA at the time refused to.

  • SEN. McCONNELL: “I organized this session because the EPA claimed it wanted citizen input on the future carbon regulations it intends to impose on existing power plants. However, its listening sessions were only scheduled for cities like New York, Boston, Seattle, and San Francisco—cities far away from coal country. There were 11 listening sessions in all, but the closest one to eastern Kentucky was all the way in Atlanta, Georgia … I don’t think it’s right that the EPA would consider taking such drastic steps without listening to the people who would be most affected—Kentucky’s coal miners, their families, and the many people throughout the state whose jobs and well-being depend on coal…. So if the EPA will not come to Pikeville to hear your message, I will deliver Pikeville’s message to them. I have called today’s session so that those in the region affected by this administration’s War on Coal will finally have a chance to be heard …” (Sen. McConnell, Press Release, 12/03/2013)

March 2015: Leader McConnell writes “a detailed letter to every governor in the United States” saying states should refrain from implementing a rule of such dubious legality.

  • “Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has begun an aggressive campaign to block President Obama’s climate change agenda in statehouses and courtrooms across the country … The campaign of Mr. McConnell, the Senate majority leader, is aimed at stopping a set of Environmental Protection Agency regulations requiring states to reduce carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants … Once enacted, the rules could shutter hundreds of coal-fired plants … Mr. McConnell, whose home state is one of the nation’s largest coal producers, has vowed to fight the rules…. On Thursday, Mr. McConnell sent a detailed letter to every governor in the United States laying out a carefully researched legal argument as to why states should not comply with Mr. Obama’s regulations. In the letter, Mr. McConnell wrote that the president was ‘allowing the E.P.A. to wrest control of a state’s energy policy.’” (“McConnell Urges States to Help Thwart Obama’s ‘War on Coal,’” The New York Times, 3/19/2015)

November 2015: With a new Republican majority, the Senate passes Sen. Shelley Moore Capito’s (R-WV) resolution of disapproval, co-sponsored by Leader McConnell, on the Obama EPA’s coal regulations.

  • “The Senate resolution, which passed 52 to 46, would scuttle a rule that would significantly cut heat-trapping carbon emissions from existing coal-fired power plants. That Environmental Protection Agency rule, released in August, is the centerpiece of Mr. Obama’s efforts to address climate change. A second resolution, which also passed 52 to 46, would strike a related E.P.A. rule intended to freeze construction of future coal-fired power plants.” (“Senate Votes to Block Obama’s Climate Change Rules,” The New York Times, 11/17/2015)
  • “Mr. McConnell, whose home state is one of the nation’s largest coal producers, has led a multifront campaign to block what Republicans call Mr. Obama’s ‘war on coal.’ … Mr. McConnell has urged states not to comply with the rules, and in Tuesday’s Senate vote he invoked a law that is rarely used, the Congressional Review Act of 1996, which allows lawmakers to pass a resolution that would block enactment of new federal regulations within 60 days of their publication.” (“Senate Votes to Block Obama’s Climate Change Rules,” The New York Times, 11/17/2015)

February 2016: The Supreme Court blocks the EPA rule from being implemented, with the justices agreeing there was a ‘fair prospect’ of a lower court striking down the rule.

  • “By issuing the temporary freeze, a 5-4 majority of the justices signaled that opponents made strong arguments against the rules. . . To convince the high court to temporarily halt the plan, opponents had to convince the justices that there was a ‘fair prospect’ the court might strike down the rule. The court also had to consider whether denying a stay would cause irreparable harm to the states and utility companies affected.” (“Obama Vows To Press Ahead On Clean Power Plan After Setback,” The Associated Press, 2/10/2016)

February 2016: Leader McConnell and over 200 members of Congress write an amicus brief to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, urging them to reject the Obama EPA regulations.

  • “Led by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and House Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), 34 Senators and 171 House Members filed an amicus brief today in the case of State of West Virginia, et al. v. Environmental Protection Agency, et al. The amicus brief is in support of petitions filed by 27 states seeking to overturn the EPA final rule … also known as the ‘Clean Power Plan.’” (U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Press Release, 2/23/2016)

January 2017: Leader McConnell wrote a letter to President Trump at the beginning of his term saying it is “important that we work together to repair some of the damage left in the wake of President Obama’s War on Coal.” Leader McConnell urged the president to rescind the EPA’s Clean Power Plan regulation and “support the actual intent of the Clean Air Act, which was to establish reasonable, adequately demonstrated, and commercially achievable standards …” (Sen. McConnell, Letter to President-elect Donald Trump, 1/04/2017)

March 2017: President Trump signs an executive order directing the EPA to go back to the drawing board and consider American jobs when considering coal emissions from power plants.

August 2018: The Trump administration announces its regulation replacing the Obama administration’s rule, the Affordable Clean Energy Rule, which the EPA has finalized this week.

  • “The Trump administration has moved to formally replace the Clean Power Plan, an environmental regulation that former President Barack Obama once lauded … The long-anticipated proposal, called the Affordable Clean Energy Rule, would give individual states more authority to make their own plans for regulating greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants. That is a marked difference from Obama’s plan, which aimed to curb climate change by moving the power sector away from coal … ‘We’re ending the intrusive EPA regulations that kill jobs,’ Trump said in a White House statement. He said that Obama’s regulation would have raised the price of energy.” (“Trump Moves To Let States Regulate Coal Plant Emissions,” NPR, 8/21/2018)



Related Issues: EPA, Energy, Coal, Regulations