WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The country’s top environmental regulator removes restrictions on coal. Reaction among lawmakers on Capitol Hill breaks partially along party lines and the boundaries of coal country.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt wiped away President Obama’s Clean Power Plan with a stroke of his pen Tuesday, one day after he announced the Trump administrations’ decision.
“The EPA is no longer in the business of picking winners and losers,” he said Monday.
Most notably, Pruitt reversed emissions regulations proposed by the previous administration. They never went into effect, delayed by legal challenges.
“That clean power plan would have been devastating for the families of South Dakota,” said Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD).
Noem said despite all the sources the state pulls energy from – if regulations took effect -- a spike in coal costs would hit her constituents squarely in the wallet. “It doesn’t matter who I talk to in South Dakota,” she said, “there’s not people who have a lot of extra money, and they don’t see how they could pay electricity bills that would increase by 40 percent.”
But many on the left – especially from outside coal country – criticize the choice to roll back the regulations. It’s a shift they said carries few benefits and substantial environmental costs.
“I’ve been to coal country, and really good people work there,” said Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT).
But, Welch said rolling back the regulations will hurt the country’s ability to compete with China. He said that country is at the forefront of renewable energy development.
A member of the House Energy committee, Welch argued technological advances and cheaper, cleaner alternatives are driving coal’s disappearance, not regulation. “[Supporters are] not going to change the math on the economy by really essentially pandering to a political point of view,” he said of the rollback.
The Republicans concede other factors are contributing to coal’s decline. But, Noem argues renewable sources need far more innovation before they could replace the dependability and price of coal.
Despite controlling the White House, Senate, and Congress, Republicans are struggling to fulfill pledges to scrap key elements of Obama’s legacy. But it took little effort to knockout the Clean Power Plan -- an executive order, not law.