March 31, 2017

EPA head tells states they don’t have to follow Clean Power Plan

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt was joined by President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and other government officials to announce an executive order directing EPA to review the Clean Power Plan, at EPA headquarters, Washington DC.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt wasted no time carrying out President Donald Trump’s executive order to administratively review and revoke the Clean Power Plan.

On Thursday, Pruitt told state officials, including those in New Mexico, they have “no obligation” to comply with the rule.

Related story: Orders from Trump, Zinke reverse nation’s climate and energy policy

In his letter to state officials, Pruitt wrote that the “days of coercive federalism are over.”

That plan would have required states to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed its implementation pending the outcome of a lawsuit against the EPA by utilities, the coal industry and 24 states. New Mexico, through Attorney General Hector Balderas, was one of 25 states, cities and counties to file a motion to intervene in support of keeping the plan.

Prior to his confirmation to head the EPA, Pruitt had been Oklahoma’s Attorney General. In that position, Pruitt was part of the lawsuit to overturn the Clean Power Plan.

Related story: New Mexico state officials mum on climate change plan

Even without the federal plan in place, New Mexico was already on track to cut emissions from power plants, due to PNM’s plans for the San Juan Generating Station near Farmington. As part of an agreement with the EPA and the New Mexico Environment Department, the utility had planned to close two of the plant’s four units by the end of this year. More recently, PNM announced it may close the entire plant in 2022.

Update: Rather than linking to the letter Pruitt sent to Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, which is on the EPA’s website, we’ve updated the link to the letter sent to New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez.