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EPA Begins Clean Power Plan Rollback

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The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday signed a proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan — President Obama’s signature climate change legislation. The 2015 rule aims to was meant to move the country’s electric grid away from coal and towards other sources with less greenhouse gas emissions.

Wyoming provides about 40 percent of the country’s coal, and most of that goes towards electricity generation. It’s no surprise the state has opposed the Clean Power Plan — or CPP — from the start.  

Wyoming Mining Association Director Travis Deti contended the threat of the Clean Power Plan has pushed coal production down as utility companies prepare for a more economical choice.

“With the new administration rolling some of these things back, I think you’re going to see some of these utilities rethinking their future planning and recognizing that coal is still a viable option,” he said.

Deti called the CPP "costly" and "a regulatory overreach.” Energy experts have blamed natural gas and economic factors for the downturn in coal.  Environmental advocates intend to fight the withdrawal in court.

Pam Kiely, a senior director of regulatory strategy at the Environmental Defense Fund, said there’s no legal basis to roll back the Clean Power Plan and that the plan is already in line with market trends.

“There’s tremendous benefits: it’s highly flexible [and] reflects the trends underway in the industry right now,” she said. “It’s a hard question how they’re going to figure out how to justify moving backwards on something like this that has really extraordinary benefits."

Kiely says the regulation shouldn’t be a scapegoat for a decline in coal production.

In a statement, Wyoming Senator John Barrasso said,

“I am glad to see that the Environmental Protection Agency is taking formal steps to repeal the Clean Power Plan. The EPA is supposed to issue reasonable regulations to protect America’s air. The Clean Power Plan was unreasonable and unlawful. It would have hurt energy workers in Wyoming and harmed the state’s economy. I look forward to working with Administrator Pruitt as he pursues policies that protect our environment and allow America’s economy to grow.”

Attached is a draft report of the proposed rule signed today by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

Before Wyoming, Cooper McKim has reported for NPR stations in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and South Carolina. He's reported breaking news segments and features for several national NPR news programs. Cooper is the host of the limited podcast series Carbon Valley. Cooper studied Environmental Policy and Music. He's an avid jazz piano player, backpacker, and podcast listener.
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