Trump’s EPA hears views on Obama’s Clean Power Plan

by Brian Grimmett, Kansas News Service

The Trump administration remains unlikely to back off its plans to ease Obama-era restrictions that make it harder for utility companies to burn coal.

Likewise, the federal courts may eventually decide what pollution rules the Environmental Protection Agency can enforce on energy production.

Yet, still, scores of people testified Wednesday in Kansas City, Missouri, about efforts to repeal the controversial Clean Power Plan. The current administration wants to dump it. The previous administration believed it was needed to protect the environment from air pollution and global carbon emissions that contribute to climate change.

EPA officials listened to people from around the region during sessions set up for various factions to vent on a hot-button issue.

Cheryl Marcum drove more than two and a half hours on icy roads from Stockton, Mo., where her home relies on solar power. She wants the Obama rules to stick.

“They can do what’s right or we will just stay on their cases until we protect our planet,” she said.

The Obama-era plan puts tougher regulations on coal-fired power plants in an effort to force states towards cleaner sources of energy. More than two dozen states challenged the plan in federal court. The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately issued a stay, preventing the agency from enforcing it.

The Trump White House contends that administrative rules created under the Clean Power Plan go beyond what law allows the EPA to impose.

“We are looking for alternatives, and we’re looking for constructive criticisms and also constructive suggestions,” said regional EPA administrator Jim Gulliford.

The agency’s listening tour also includes stops in the coal country of Wyoming and West Virginia. It will stop in San Francisco next week.

“So there’s an opportunity, hopefully, to hear a very broad spectrum of interests,” Gulliford said.

The effort to repeal the Clean Power Plan is part of the Trump administration’s broader efforts to revitalize the American coal industry.

More than 180 witnesses had signed up to testify on Wednesday at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Beacon Complex in Kansas City, Missouri. Among them was Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley’s office. Missouri is on record siding with the Trump administration and against the Clean Power Plan.

Brian Grimmett, based at KMUW in Wichita, is a reporter focusing on the environment and energy for the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KMUW, Kansas Public Radio, KCUR and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. Follow him on Twitter @briangrimmett. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to the original post.

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