Today, the Trump Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) dealt a major blow to the centerpiece of former President Barack Obama’s radical climate agenda.
The Trump EPA began the process of replacing Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) by proposing their own regulatory framework, the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Plan. The CPP was the administrative state at its worst. In its creation, the Obama EPA used a groundless reading of the Clean Air Act to coerce states to adopt sweeping plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, doing so by threatening the flow of federal highway funds to states. This clear abuse even led Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Tribe, President Obama’s legal mentor, to argue that the CPP “is a remarkable example of executive overreach and an administrative agency’s assertion of power beyond its statutory authority.”
The legal standing of Obama’s CPP was so unsound that the Supreme Court blocked its implementation in early 2016 and has since never gone into effect.
Aside from its unlawfulness and clear governmental overreach, the CPP was an economic nightmare. The CPP was projected to cause a 12 to 17 percent increase in electricity prices and would’ve decreased household spending power between $64 and $79 billion, with annual compliance costs projected to reach up to $73 billion. The economic impact on businesses and families would’ve been crippling.
Thankfully, the Trump administration has been dedicated to repealing CPP. On October 2017, former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced the EPA’s intent to begin scaling back the CPP by issuing an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. Now, after the laboriously sifting through the 270,000 public comments received, Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler rolled out EPA’s ACE Plan to replace the CPP.
The ACE Plan focuses on giving states more authority over regulating emissions and lengthens to timeframe states have to submit emission reducing plans from nine months to three years, allowing for appropriate flexibility. The proposal also defines the best system of emissions reduction for greenhouse gases as improving heat-rate efficiency at individual power plants. This approach is designed to make it easier for power plants to upgrade equipment. According to the EPA’s estimate, replacing the CPP with the ACE rule will net $3.4 billion in benefits, including $400 million annually, and could save up to $6.4 billion in compliance costs.
The announcement of the ACE Plan marks a significant roll-back of President Obama’s climate agenda and a major check on the Obama Administration’s overreach. Paired with Trump’s withdrawal of the Paris climate agreement and correction to the CAFE Standards, the ACE Plan is a continuation of much needed reform to the Obama climate agenda that shackled the American economy for eight years.