Trump's Clean Power Plan replacement now at OMB

Dive Brief:

  • President's Trump's replacement for the Clean Power Plan is now being reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget, a necessary step before it can be released for public comment.
  • The Hill reports the form of Trump's plan remains unknown, but it is expected to include a complete rollback of the Obama-era power plant rules.
  • OMB typically takes about two months to review a rule, but can take additional time.

Dive Insight:

Just how the Trump administration intends to do away with the Clean Power Plan remains under wraps, but The Hill reports the approach could be just weeks away from being published.

Whatever the regulatory wrangling looks like, it is slowly moving ahead even as the White House remains mired in questions surrounding Russia and former FBI Director James Comey's testimony on Capitol Hill. Those events also kept the President from more-effectively getting out his message on speeding infrastrcuture development, where he wants to reduce permitting time for projects from 10 years to 2 years, while "slashing regulations to speed up the decision making process."

Trump has laid out a $1 trillion investment plan to rebuild infrastructure, and has pointed to decisions on the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines as proof of his administration's commitment. Alongside the speedier approval of fossil fuel infrastructure, the administration has vowed to role back President Obama's environmental rules, including the Clean Power Plan.

The CPP aims to cut emissions from existing power plants 32% by 2030, and would have been the engine behind the United States' commitment to the Paris climate agreement. Trump, however, announced last week that the country will abandon the multinational accord.

Those moves came amid other decisions to review Obama-era rules. Last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency instituted a 90-day stay limits on methane emissions from oil and gas drilling sites, allowing the fossil fuels industry to submit another round of comments before the rule goes into effect.

But undoing the Clean Power Plan, which is a fully promulgated rule, will be no small task.

The administration can't simply undo the rule because it has a duty to regulate carbon under a 2009 endangerment finding that the pollutant threatens public health. If the White House fails to issue a replacement for the CPP, it could open a legal challenge on that finding and the scope of the Clean Air Act, the underlying statute. 

The Hill notes that OMB typically takes about 60 days to review rules, but that the process can go longer.

The Clean Power Plan had been tied up in court, but in April the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit granted a White House request to pause ongoing litigation surrounding the rule as the Trump administration determined how it would move forward.

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Filed Under: Generation Regulation & Policy