The Trump administration is rolling out its plan to roll back the Clean Power Plan, the landmark climate-changing regulation that was enacted by former President Barack Obama in 2015 and was supposed to prevent the country from burning coal.
On Thursday, the administration released its plan, which will set in motion a process to review and repeal the rule, as well as other rules that Obama had issued.
The plan does not address the question of whether climate change is real.
But it will give the administration a chance to decide whether the climate is more severe than the scientific consensus suggests and whether the president should continue to put the coal-fired power plants on the hook for billions of dollars of damages from the climate-related air and water pollution.
“The Clean Power plan is a very good start,” said Chris Junker, the executive director of the Sierra Club.
“But this plan doesn’t actually address the issue of whether there’s climate change, it doesn’t address the fact that the rule is the largest and most consequential of all of the regulatory actions that Obama has taken.”
The EPA says it will “evaluate” the proposal.
The Trump plan includes some major policy changes, including a new proposal to revise the Clean Water Act, a regulatory law that governs the treatment of fish and other aquatic species in the United States.
The agency also wants to revise an agency rule to allow the federal government to sue companies for damages for greenhouse gases released by coal plants.
“It is imperative that the president, who has a long history of being a climate skeptic, take this seriously,” said Junker.
“This is a historic opportunity.”
The Trump EPA will issue its final rule by March.
The new plan is likely to include an aggressive review of the rule and some major revisions to the Clean Air Act, which the Trump EPA has proposed to repeal.
“They’ve got a really big decision to make about the rule,” said Michael Brune, the head of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank.
“Are they going to just let it stand, or are they going out and make some changes?
And I think that’s the most important question.”
The rule has been the focus of intense lobbying by coal companies, which argue that the regulation will make it more difficult for them to operate coal-burning power plants.
The industry’s response has been to hire outside experts to review the rule’s impact and to argue that it will hurt coal-based businesses.
“Coal has a lot of problems, but one of the things that really hurt the coal business is the climate change,” said Bill McKibben, the director of climate and energy programs at 350.org, which is leading the charge against the rule.
“And I think there’s a really real chance that that will be the case here.”
The Obama administration had proposed that states be able to impose costs on companies that did not meet a specific carbon-reduction standard, which would have allowed states to levy fines on companies for not reducing emissions by 40 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.
Under the Trump plan, the EPA would review that rule, but not require that states impose such a requirement.
“We believe the rule was a critical element in the successful implementation of the Clean Climate Protection Rule,” said Steven Rosen, the assistant secretary for the Interior Department’s Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, which oversees the EPA.
“States will continue to have the option to determine their own emissions reductions targets under the rule.”
The White House and coal companies have been sparring over the rules since the 2016 presidential campaign, with both sides saying the other should not have taken the rule out.
But the coal companies and Obama supporters say the Clean Coal Rule is one of Obama’s signature achievements, and that its impact has been positive.
“As a result of the President’s action, we are the only nation in the world that does not burn coal,” said Kevin Anderson, the chief executive of Duke Energy, the largest coal producer in the U.S. “If we can make it easier for our neighbors to run their power plants and create more jobs, we will.”
The industry has said that the rules were passed with bipartisan support.
The White State Coalition, a coalition of states, environmentalists and business groups, is leading a campaign to repeal the regulations.
“Congress is wasting billions of taxpayer dollars to make sure coal plants don’t reopen, which makes us all more dependent on fossil fuels,” said David Steffen, the president of the American Energy Alliance, a trade group.
“A clean coal industry will help our economy grow and create good-paying jobs, and will make us more competitive in the global marketplace.”
The coal industry is also concerned about the impact of the new rule.
It’s concerned that the EPA is not considering whether the rule would be a “job killer,” according to a letter sent to the White House on Thursday.
The letter, signed by more than 400 members of Congress, said the rule could create jobs and save the nation $15 billion. The coal