Rep. Cramer credits Trump for regulation rollback

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The country’s top environmental regulator removes restrictions on coal. Reaction among lawmakers on Capitol Hill breaks partially along party lines and the boundaries of coal country.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt wiped away President Obama’s Clean Power Plan with a stroke of his pen Tuesday, one day after he announced the Trump administrations’ decision.

“The EPA is no longer in the business of picking winners and losers,” he said Monday.

Most notably, Pruitt reversed emissions regulations proposed by the previous administration. They never went into effect, delayed by legal challenges.

“North Dakota is a good example of how arbitrary and capricious the standards were,” said Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND).

Cramer points out that the coal burned in his home state is a different type than that burned elsewhere. It takes more to generate the same amount of electricity – and the regulations made its future uncertain.

“Which would have meant the death of the industry,” he said, “but it’s not just the death of the lignite industry, it’s the death of lots of industries when their electricity costs skyrocket.”

But many on the left – especially from outside coal country – criticize the choice to roll back the regulations. It’s a shift they said carries few benefits and substantial environmental costs.

“I’ve been to coal country, and really good people work there,” said Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT).

But, Welch said rolling back the regulations will hurt the country’s ability to compete with China. He said that country is at the forefront of renewable energy development.

A member of the House Energy committee, Welch argued technological advances and cheaper, cleaner alternatives are driving coal’s disappearance, not regulation. “[Supporters are] not going to change the math on the economy by really essentially pandering to a political point of view,” he said of the rollback.

The Republicans concede other factors are contributing to coal’s decline. But, Cramer argues the looming regulatory threat did plenty to harm people, and its costs are unclear.

Despite controlling the White House, Senate, and Congress, Republicans are struggling to fulfill pledges to scrap key elements of Obama’s legacy. But it took little effort to knockout the Clean Power Plan -- an executive order, not law.

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