The comeback of American coal

The comeback of American coal

Giancarlo Strocchia
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt's announcement that his agency will scrap the policies to fight climate change contained in the Clean Power Plan launched by Obama in 2015 puts a stop to the transition towards renewables that was expected to achieve a 32 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions from power plants by 2030

Washington is poised to scrap the Clean Power Plan. It was announced on October 9, 2017, by Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency under the Trump Administration. This puts into effect Trump’s election pledge to roll back the policy to ban coal introduced by his predecessor Barack Obama, and to completely review the planned measures to combat climate change. "The war against coal is over," said Pruitt at an event in Hazard, eastern Kentucky. The EPA chief is getting ready to sign the withdrawal of the plan launched by Obama which Trump had ordered to be reviewed in late March. The repeal is based on the objection that, in formulating and approving Clean Power Plan, Obama exceeded his legal authority. This pushes even further into the distance the prospect that the Unites States will honor the commitments it undertook when signing the Paris accord on climate change aimed at halting the dangerous effects of global warming, a deal which President Trump has repeatedly avowed he would abandon as soon as possible.

A hard blow to environmental protection policies

To the words "a great future for our kids", Obama's Clean Power Plan aimed to curb emissions from American coal-fired power plants by 32 percent by 2030, and to reduce premature deaths from such emissions by 90 percent. "Over the past six and a half years, we've taken on some of the toughest challenges of our time, from rebuilding our economy after a devastating recession to ending our wars in Iraq [...] But I am convinced that no challenge poses a greater threat to our future," said Obama when announcing the Plan, underscoring the need to make "sure that we've got clean air, clean water, a great future for our kids." "If we don't get it right we may not be able to reverse," he added, "because I believe there is such a thing as being too late." According to the current U.S. Administration’s calculations, a repeal of the plan to convert to alternative sources of energy will save the country around USD 33 billion. Meanwhile, for economic reasons, many American states are already moving away from coal as a source of energy production. Now, say the experts, “scrapping” the Clean Power Plan could delay, and actually even block, the transition process under way.

Environmentalists vs. Industrialists

Environmentalist groups are getting ready for a fight, and many American states have already announced their intention to challenge the repeal proposal in the federal courts using scientific and economic arguments. Industry groups, on the other hand, are jubilant and have applauded the announced withdrawal of the CPP, but have urged Pruitt to replace current laws with new and more moderate power plant regulations to face possible legal action, given that, according to a legal opinion delivered in 2009, the EPA is required to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.