The Environmental Protection Agency is no longer about “regulating an entire industry out of business,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said Thursday, visiting a large coal-fired power plant in Missouri that likely would have been forced to close under the Obama EPA’s climate plan.
The visit was part of a tour of coal country by Pruitt and other senior officials that began last week to show the Trump administration’s support for the industry, after years of neglect that critics commonly refer to as former President Barack Obama’s “War on Coal.”
Pruitt also discussed Trump’s recent executive order that repeals a number of Obama’s climate change executive actions, including a review of climate rules on the utility industry that ultimately will seek to rescind the regulations.
“Coal is, and will continue to be, a critical part of America’s energy mix,” Pruitt said while visiting the Thomas Hill Energy Center in Clifton Hill. “Last week I went underground in a Pennsylvania coal mine, and today I got a first-hand look at a Missouri coal-fired power plant,” he said.
Pruitt reiterated what he told coal miners in Pennsylvania a week ago. “I’m committed to working in coordination with states to create a healthy environment where jobs and businesses can grow,” he said. “That’s the purpose of my Back-to-Basics agenda,” which is the name of the campaign he announced last week.
“I saw today just how important this fuel source is to affordable electricity and economic development in the region, especially in the agriculture community,” Pruitt said.
The power plant he visited Thursday is considered one of the coal facilities most compliant with EPA pollution regulations. But under Obama’s Clean Power Plan, it probably would have been closed, according to officials who met with Pruitt. The Clean Power Plan is the centerpiece of Obama’s climate change agenda, which would require states to cut greenhouse gas emissions a third by 2030.
Many scientists blame the emissions, from burning fossil fuels, for climate change, resulting in more severe weather, drought and flooding.
“When EPA asked for comments from the public on its Clean Power Plan in 2013, Missouri electric cooperative members responded with more than 300,000 comments, all with a common theme: ‘Don’t raise our rates, and we want an all-of-the-above energy strategy that keeps electricity affordable and creates jobs,'” said Barry Hart, executive vice president and CEO of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives. But those comments “fell on deaf ears.”
Rural cooperative utilities are not-for-profit utilities focused on providing electricity to their members. Electric cooperatives make up a large swath of the nation’s utility sector and have been heavily involved in a major lawsuit fighting the Clean Power Plan.
“We are encouraged to see that the Trump administration understands the concerns of people in rural America and is committed to bringing the change they want,” Hart said.
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- On April 20, 2017