Trump EPA Scuttles Costly Obama-era “Clean Power Plan”

Embattled big government overreach finally meets its demise

MacIver News Service | October 9, 2017

The following first appeared at the MacIver Institute.

The Trump administration on Tuesday will officially put an end to a draconian slate of Obama-era environmental regulations known as the “Clean Power Plan.”

The EPA’s decision comes as little surprise after President Trump in March issued an executive order instructing the agency to begin a review of the controversial, economically devastating rules. Repealing the CPP was a cornerstone of Trump’s campaign platform.

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“That rule really was about picking winners and losers,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt told Fox News on Monday. “The past administration was unapologetic, they were using every bit of power, authority to use the EPA to pick winners and losers on how we pick electricity in this country. That is wrong.”

“Repealing the Clean Power Plan is the right move for the economy and for the rule of law. The Obama administration’s signature climate rule was a vast, unlawful expansion of government authority into the energy sector with wide-reaching consequences for our economy,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Janesville) in a statement.

The Clean Power Plan, a series of devastating regulations developed by Obama’s EPA, would limit carbon emissions from coal-fired electricity power plants, cutting the allowable amount of emissions by more than half. Despite the high economic cost, the CPP would only change global temperature by under two-hundredths of a degree Celsius by the end of the century, according to researchers at the CATO Institute.

Volumes of research clearly show the economic damage the rules would have inflicted across the nation. The CPP would have hit Wisconsin particularly hard, since its electricity supply is more reliant on coal power than most states.

A joint study by the MacIver Institute and The Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University in 2015 found that the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan would cost Wisconsin $920 million in 2030, and reduce disposable income in the state by nearly $2 billion.

The study also found that the CPP would have cost Wisconsin 21,000 jobs and increased the average household electric bill by $225 per year and the average commercial business electric bill by $1,530 per year. The average Wisconsin factory would be hit with an extra $105,094 per year in higher energy costs if the CPP were implemented.

Recognizing the regulations’ devastating costs, Wisconsin joined 26 other states in suing the Obama EPA over the rules, a lawsuit that eventually resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court halting the rules’ implementation in early 2016 for further review. Delaying regulations and overturning a lower court is a rare move for the high court, indicating the justices saw compelling evidence that the burdensome rules presented the risk of immediate harm to the economy.

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The MacIver Institute joined Gov. Scott Walker, Attorney General Brad Schimel, and Speaker Paul Ryan in celebratingthe court’s decision. “The Supreme Court recognizes the significant damage this rule will have on our economy and our way of life,” said Brett Healy, president of the MacIver Institute.

In their lawsuit, Wisconsin and other states argued that the Clean Power Plan, which relied on the authority given to the EPA under the Clean Air Act, was an unlawful power grab by federal bureaucrats that exceeded the law’s authority.

By scrapping the Clean Power Plan, the Trump EPA also repudiates the federal overreach and recognizes, like the Supreme Court, the imminent harm the new regulations posed to the nation’s economy.

After he signs an order on Tuesday formally rolling back the Clean Power Plan, Pruitt intends to begin work on a new rule that falls within the bounds of the Clean Air Act.