Regulatory Commissars

Obama's (Un)Clean Power Plan Up in Smoke

Trump continues a very good pattern of undoing his predecessor's legacy of economic destruction.

Paul Albaugh · Oct. 10, 2017

Donald Trump’s administration is poised to take down another regulation that was hailed by leftists as part of Barack Obama’s legacy. Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) is the target this time, and when it is repealed in its entirety — and not replaced — it will be another huge win for America.

This isn’t just any regulation, either. Recall that the Clean Power Plan was Obama’s signature edict — a far-reaching effort to allegedly curb greenhouse gas emissions as part of his war against climate change. This plan directed every state to develop detailed plans to reduce CO2 emissions, primarily from coal-fired plants, with the intended outcome of cutting carbon pollution by one-third from 2005 levels by 2030.

Fortunately, the CPP never made it very far after 27 states vowed to go fight it, which ultimately led to the Supreme Court blocking its implementation. Unfortunately, with Trump’s EPA announcing repeal of the CPP, there will likely be more legal challenges ahead — this time from the Left.

Climate alarmists are of course outraged that Trump’s EPA would repeal Obama’s plan. David Doniger, a senior attorney for climate and clear air at the Natural Resources Defense Council, whined, “We had a Clean Power Plan. What we’re getting is a Dirty Power Plan.” And former EPA chief Gina McCarthy insisted that the CPP would have brought “major health benefits to families” and that premature deaths would have been reduced by 3,600 per year. It’s quite the double standard for leftists to worry about saving lives in the name of climate control when they simultaneously push for the unhampered premature deaths of preborn babies, isn’t it?

Aside from the CPP being a very bad deal for American consumers and the energy industry as a whole, Trump’s EPA in a statement had this to say: “The EPA proposes to determine that the CPP is not within Congress’s grant of authority to the agency under the governing statute. It is not in the interests of the EPA, or in accord with its mission of environmental protection consistent with the rule of law, to expend its resources along the path of implementing a rule, receiving and passing judgment on state plans, or promulgating federal plans in furtherance of a policy that is not within the bounds of our statutory authority.”

In other words, Scott Pruitt’s EPA determined that the CPP was unconstitutional. The CPP, if implemented, would have enabled the EPA to act outside of its legal limits. What a refreshing statement coming from one of the most burdensome agencies in the country.

The Clean Power Plan was nothing more than a massive power grab by the federal government over the energy industry, primarily coal. It would have imposed rules on all 50 states in violation of the separation of powers.

Aside from being an unconstitutional abuse of power, Obama’s Clean Power Play would also impose heavy economic burdens on consumers and would have resulted in many more job losses from the coal industry. The estimated cost of the plan was between $41 billion and $73 billion a year, and all it would have done was purportedly reduce the temperature by an estimated 0.02 degrees. Thus it’s certain that the cost of the CPP far outweighed the tenuous benefits. But again, the plan was always about power and control, not saving the planet.

Sure, Trump will be blasted by climate alarmists and their media cohorts. But remember, Trump was a businessman, and he, like most Americans, saw that the Clean Power Plan was not going to be good for America’s economy. Further, as Reason’s Ronald Bailey notes, “It [CPP] sounds like a big deal but it probably isn’t. With or without the CPP, a different force may be pushing the power sector to reduce emissions by nearly that much: low natural gas prices.”

Several energy studies have shown that even without the CPP, power sector emissions would drop as much as 26% below 2005 levels. That’s if renewable energy subsidies remain in place. Even better, the subsidies should be eliminated because the cost of renewable energy continues to fall, therefore out-competing conventional power production. Low natural gas prices combined with lower renewable energy costs mean less emissions in the future. So, what do leftists have to complain about?

They will of course go on the attack against Trump and accuse him of wanting to destroy the planet. But they will ignore the fact that Obama’s plan would have done far more harm than good. Trump’s EPA will allow more of the free market to dictate the outcome of energy use and emissions output instead of a top down, government-controlled approach. In the end, with Trump’s plan to repeal the CPP, America wins.

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