More pressure mounts on Trump's energy agenda

States and advocacy groups are leading a charge to keep the Clean Power Plan an active policy.
By Daniel J. Graeber  |  April 6, 2017 at 7:55 AM
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April 6 (UPI) -- The Trump administration is on the wrong side of the law with efforts to delay the execution of clean power rules, a group of states and advocates said.

The Natural Resources Defense Council led a coalition of environmental groups and New York led state efforts in challenging White House action targeting the Clean Power Plan in the courts. In an executive order last week, U.S. President Donald Trump ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to review the plan, and the EPA later filed a motion requesting a suspension of the rules during its investigation.

According to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, that could effectively kill the measure as it lingers in the U.S. court system.

"My office will continue to defend the Clean Power Plan and aggressively oppose any effort to stand down from our shared responsibility to protect our environment and our climate," he said in a statement.

Trump has moved quickly on measures that favor the oil and gas industry, including facilitating the approval process for the Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipelines, two projects long the source of ire from the environmental advocacy community.

In a sweeping executive order issued last week, the president's office described the move to reconsider some of the environmental regulations imposed by President Barack Obama, his predecessor, as a means to promote energy independence and economic growth.

In announcing its support for Trump's executive action, the American Petroleum Institute said "smart, common sense and science-based" guidelines should steer U.S. energy policy. Already, the API, which lobbies on behalf of the fossil fuels industry, said oil and gas supports about 8 percent of the national economy.

U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, said many of Obama's environmental policies were "ideologically-driven."

The final version of the Clean Power Plan set a goal of cutting emissions of carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas, by 32 percent of their 2005 baseline by 2030, 9 percent more than in the original proposal. Most of the states that opposed the measure last year rely on coal.

The Natural Resource Defense Council said in statements emailed to UPI that the Trump administration was using stealth tactics through the court by mooting the measure rather than taking formal legislative action that could be more susceptible to scrutiny.

According the NRDC and allies launching their own challenge, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt could render the Clean Power Plan unenforceable "without justifying its actions -- without holding public hearings, listening to millions of Americans who want climate action, and justifying its changes to the courts."

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