EPA pumps brakes on Obama-era carbon mandates for states

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- The Trump administration is pumping the brakes on Obama-era mandates for carbon pollution. Critics say it is a blow to clean air.

Our Alana Austin interviews the head of the Environmental Protection Agency - also known as the EPA - about the new standards for states.

President Donald Trump hoping to fire up coal country by lifting federal regulations on greenhouse gases from power plants.

“We are putting our great coal miners back to work," declared the President at a rally in West Virginia this week. His evening MAGA-themed event took place hours after the EPA rolled out its replacement to former President Barack Obama's 'Clean Power Plan'.

Obama’s plan hoped to cut U.S. carbon emissions by a third by 2030.

“The Obama administration and their plan were really engaged in social engineering and that is not the role of the US EPA," said Andrew Wheeler, Acting Administrator of the EPA.

Wheeler says the agency’s new plan gives states three years to come up with their own path to cut carbon emissions and prove they’re making progress.

While Wheeler says this proposal is less aggressive than the Obama plan, he argues it’s still going to help the environment.

“Our proposal follows the law, will make CO2 reductions and will continue to clean up the air for all Americans," said Wheeler.

The Clean Power Plan prompted dozens of states to sue for federal overreach and the U.S. Supreme Court put the regulations on hold. While that environmental action did not move forward, the liberal leaning-Center for American Progress says this new direction is irresponsible.

“I think the challenge that we’re facing with climate change is enormous and it is requiring us to rethink how we get our electricity and how we use energy,” said Christy Goldfuss, senior vice president for energy and environment policy at the Center for American Progress.

Goldfuss also argues the new plan props up the coal industry over American innovation in wind, solar and other renewable energy sources. She says this lowers standards and sacrifices air quality and public health.

“This is 100% about Trump and Wheeler picking political winners and losers in the energy space," said Goldfuss.

Both sides say they anticipate legal challenges to the Trump administration’s new policy. That may mean federal energy regulations are in the hands of the 2020 presidential winner.

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