HomeWashington Letter2017 ▶ Trump EPA to Withdraw Clean Power Plan
Trump EPA to Withdraw Clean Power Plan

October 2017

This week, EPA Administration Scott Pruitt formally announced the Trump Administration decision to withdraw the Obama era federal regulation to address carbon emissions in the U.S. – known as the Clean Power Plan.  While President Trump had announced his intent to withdraw Clean Power Plan several months ago, it wasn't until this week that the Administration took formal action to rescind the federal rule.

While the federal rule rescinding the clean power has not yet been published in the federal record, leaked copies of the rule have been reported on by the press. It appears the rule will be withdrawn and while no immediate action is expected to replace the Clean Power Plan, it seems the EPA intends to publish an Advance Notice of Proposed Rule Making  in the foreseeable future to collect public input on how the EPA might address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Further, it appears EPA is considering regulating emissions from U.S. power plants in a way that might actually allow increases in GHG emissions.

What is also clear from the leaked proposal is that the Trump Administration is significantly changing how the EPA estimates costs and benefits associated with reducing GHG emissions. Under the leaked plan, the EPA is only counting benefits associated with reduced carbon emissions and is not considering the benefits associated with reductions on other pollutants (ozone, PM, NOx, SOx) that would have been achieved under the Clean Power Plan.

Despite Administrator Pruitt's withdrawal of the Clean Power Plan, addressing climate change will continue to be a pressing policy issue for the EPA. The Supreme Court has ruled that the EPA is obligated to regulate carbon dioxide and other GHG emissions. While the courts will give the agency significant leeway in how they address GHGs, it is unlikely that the court will allow the EPA to avoid taking some action on GHG emissions.

The American Thoracic Society issued a press release (hotlink to release) expressing our opposition to withdrawal of the Clean Power Plan:  "The health and well-being of our patients is at stake," said ATS President Marc Moss, MD.  "Many lives will be saved if we act now and move forward responsibly by lowering greenhouse gas emissions."

Last Reviewed: October 2017