- The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency told House lawmakers Thursday that his agency will replace the Obama-era Clean Power Plan with a new regulation, rather than eliminating it outright.
- “We are going to be introducing a replacement rule too, in place of the Clean Power Plan,” Pruitt told the House Energy and Commerce Committee in a morning hearing. Previously, he had only committed to issuing a call for comments on how to proceed with the climate rules.
- Pruitt's statement was cut off by the conclusion of the morning hearing, leaving some uncertainty as to whether he misspoke. Asked after a later hearing if EPA would indeed issue a replacement rule, Pruitt denied comment.
For months, the EPA has been preparing an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) — now at the Office of Management and Budget — that would call for comments on how to replace the Clean Power Plan. Other than that, the agency has been mum on how it would proceed with the Obama-era climate regulations.
But on Thursday, the administrator tipped his hand, telling lawmakers the EPA would issue a replacement regulation for the CPP.
“We are going to be introducing a replacement rule too, in place of the Clean Power Plan,” he said.
That replacement rule is expected by many to regulate emissions only "inside the fenceline" of individual power plants. The CPP, by contrast, directed plant owners to reduce emissions to levels only achievable by going "outside of the fenceline" of individual generators, through methods like purchasing renewables or closing coal plants in exchange for natural gas.
The so-called fenceline provision was a key argument that CPP critics, including the current EPA administrator, used to challenge the regulations in court last year. And Pruitt himself drafted a similar "inside the fence" alternative to CPP back in 2014 when he challenged the federal rule as Oklahoma attorney general.
If EPA does not issue a replacement for the CPP, it could open up a legal battle over the 2009 carbon endangerment finding, which underpins the EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gases. During the morning hearing, Pruitt told lawmakers he believes the Obama administration "short-shrifted" the analysis behind that finding.
"In fact there was something done in 2009 that in my estimation has never been done since and was never done before," Pruitt said. "[The EPA] took work from the UN [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] and transported it to the agency and adopted it as the core of the finding."
Pruitt said EPA has been conducting an internal review of climate science for months, which he hopes to announce "as soon as January of next year." In justifying the review, he referenced his qualms with the use of IPCC data, saying Americans deserve an "objective, transparent, real-time review" of climate science.
"I think one of the most important things we can do for the American people is provide that discussion, and it hasn’t happened," Pruitt said. "As I indicated, the agency borrowed the work product of a third party. We have to ensure that discussion occurs."