In the last few weeks, we have witnessed a momentous change in the outlook for our nation’s coal-based electricity fleet. With the election of President Trump, and the pending confirmation of Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, there is new hope that the EPA will turn away from regulatory policies that would have imposed enormous costs on electricity ratepayers with very little environmental benefit in most cases.
The U.S. coal-based electricity fleet has shrunk over the past eight years, with most coal power plant shutdowns due in large part to EPA policies. The remaining efficient, reliable coal-fired power plants need to be maintained as part of a diverse mix that includes all electricity sources.
Pruitt is far from the anti-environment villain that his opponents claim. Rather, he has promised a sensible approach to environmental regulations and one that is true to the letter of the laws passed by Congress. As Attorney General of Oklahoma, Scott Pruitt has worked to ensure clean air and water, suing environmental violators on at least 13 occasions and entering into interstate agreements to fight pollution. At the same time, General Pruitt has taken the Obama Administration’s EPA to task when it sought to impose unlawful regulations on the states. For example, the “Clean Power Plan,” would have usurped the authority of the states to decide which electricity sources are best for their citizens. While this regulation was intended to reduce the effects of climate change, it would have reduced sea level rise by only the thickness of two sheets of paper and, according the agency’s own analysis, would have cost $8 billion per year.
Coal-fired power plants provide reliable and affordable electricity for 48 states. President Trump and General Pruitt’s policies will ensure that these plants can continue to operate cleanly and reliably.