(USA Today, August 21) – The Obama administration abused environmental laws by issuing punishing regulations. It tried to transform the energy sector by declaring war on coal.
My home state of Wyoming felt the effects firsthand. Wyoming is America’s leading coal producer. Coal creates good paying jobs, helps communities grow, and provides affordable energy.
Under the Obama administration, coal was under attack. The so-called Clean Power Plan would have cost energy workers their jobs and raised energy bills for hardworking families. The plan risked devastating communities in Wyoming and across the nation. It would have increased costs and had a negligible effect on the environment.
The burdensome regulation wasn’t just bad policy — it was also illegal. The EPA went well beyond its authority. For that reason, Wyoming and 26 other states challenged the Clean Power Plan in court. The Supreme Court immediately recognized the legal flaws of the rule and took the unprecedented step of putting it on hold.
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Now, the Trump administration is taking important action to remove that broken plan. The new proposal is built on an open dialogue with states and folks from across the country. The point of this process: to see whether there is a reasonable and legal solution.
The Clean Air Act places clear limits on how Washington can regulate emissions from energy sources. States are supposed to be in the driver’s seat when determining the emissions limits that apply to power plants.
Energy production and use vary from state to state. States need maximum flexibility under the Clean Air Act. It is the states that can best tackle the question of how we reduce emissions without raising people’s electric bills and hurting our economy. The Obama top-down mandate from Washington wasn’t legal and wouldn’t work.
States must play a significant role in this process. Workers from Wyoming to West Virginia, who would’ve been directly impacted by this regulation, now have a seat at the table.
Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., is chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.