In 2015, then-President Barrack Obama created the Clean Power Plan, or CPP. The CPP sought to regulate emissions from fossil fuel-fired (coal) power plants.
Congress passed the Clean Air Act to help regulate clean air and tasked the EPA with carrying out this plan. The Obama administration applied this to power plants through the CPP. The CPP creates a system wherein regulations reduce carbon emissions emitted from these power plants. Under the CPP, the EPA tailored plans to different states so there would be, according to the EPA, a reduction in carbon emissions.
Purpose of the Plan
The purpose of the CPP, according to Obama administration officials, was to reduce carbon emissions that are linked to climate change. They claim that coal burning creates climate change.
Due to its link with climate change, it was a hot political issue. Many detractors claim that climate change is a myth and is based on junk science. Proponents argue that they have real evidence and it is therefore out obligation to protect the plant.
As a hot political item, the CPP became a target of the new Trump administration in 2017.
At the same time, the CPP called for the use of alternative energy sources that were not coal based, namely wind power. It had a push to create wind farms. Detractors disagreed with wind farms because, the claim was, wind farms are inefficient and not a good source of energy.
Repealing the Plan
Not surprisingly, many on the right saw the CPP as a vehicle to promote what they see as a non-existant, politically motivated, climate change agenda. They saw the CPP as a way to shut down power plants, which would put the US at a distinct disadvantage in the competitive world energy market.
Currently, US energy output is at an all-time high. Oil output is growing. New oil fields in the Bakken Shale Play in North Dakota and other oil fields contribute to the domestic output; the domestic natural gas industry is booming; new technologies are emerging. CPP, according to critics, is a plan to set the US energy production sector back.
According to statistics, plan opponents say, the CPP would cripple the energy economy by making regulations that are so draconian. They claim that it would cost the US energy sector 479,000 jobs by 2027. This compelled 27 states, notably energy producing states like West Virginia and North Carolina, to take their case to court.
Initially, opponents of CPP brought the case to the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling, voted to stay implementation of the plan and requiring a review. As such, the CPP was never implemented.
With a new republican administration in the White House, the EPA moved quickly to repeal CPP. Citing its harmful economic effects and its draconian nature, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt started the repeal process. It seems that the CPP will not be initiated anytime soon.
The tug-of-war that is climate change was fought under the CPP banner. Time will tell where the next battleground takes place.
Alex Forrest is currently the chief prosecutor for the Harris County Environmental Crimes Division of the Harris County District Attorney's Office in Houston, Texas. This blog is intended to keep the public informed on recent changes in environmental law.