October 16, 2017

U.S. EPA Throws Out Costly Emissions Regulations

Last Tuesday, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt announced that his agency would formally rescind Obama-era regulations limiting emissions from power plants. Called the Clean Power Plan (CPP), the rules never took effect due to ongoing legal challenges.

The Metals Service Center Institute strongly opposed this plan because of the enormous costs it would impose on consumers and on industry and its negative effect on economic growth. (According to Manufacturing.Net, Pruitt’s EPA estimated the CPP would impose an estimated $33 billion in compliance costs in 2030.) As the Heartland Institute explained, “the CPP would have required states to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, on average” and “to comply with the plan, states would have to force utilities to shutter dozens of coal-fired power plants prematurely.” The Energy Information Administration, a federal government agency, estimated the CPP would reduce U.S. economic growth by $112 billion each year and $1.23 trillion between 2020 and 2030.

The EPA will now begin work on a replacement plan, but it has not offered a timetable for developing that proposal.

Environmental groups already have threatened to sue the EPA to keep the CPP in place. In the past, the Supreme Court has ruled against the EPA and its authority to implement these regulations. That case, however, has been appealed to the Washington, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals where the final decision is likely to be handed down. If the appeals court reverses the Supreme Court, the Obama administration’s plan would likely remain in place, but if it is upheld, the Trump administration would likely face far fewer legal battles and an easier road to full CPP repeal.