Trump Administration’s Reevaluation of Ozone Restrictions Met with Opposition from States

Trump Administration’s Reevaluation of Ozone Restrictions Met with Opposition from States

Over the past few months, the Trump Administration has implied that it will not resist lawsuits that aim to undo certain environmental laws [1]. These laws include those that were enacted during Obama’s presidency and designed to protect against dangerous levels of smog [1]. In 2015, the Obama administration enacted new restrictions under the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that worked to require citizens and power plants to reduce ground-level ozone produced by the burning of fossil fuels from 75 to 70 parts per billion [2]. This change, called the Clean Power Plan, was brought about after novel scientific research linked smog to the development of asthma in young children [2]. EPA officials said that the change would decrease the suffering of millions of Americans who have respiratory illnesses [2]. At the time, the restrictions were widely criticized by environmentalists who urged the Obama administration to push for even more change in an effort to reduce smog [2]. Now, the Trump Administration may do away with even the small restrictions enacted under Obama [1].

Trump signed an executive order in March that included repealing federal regulations on carbon dioxide emission by power plants and the banning of coal mines [3]. Although the position of Trump’s administration is currently not entirely clear, the 2015 rule was criticized by several Republican officials as too stringent [4]. Additionally, many say that Obama’s regulations hinder energy productions and decrease jobs while providing no environmental benefit [4].  On Friday, the Trump administration told an appeals court that they are considering repealing Obama’s 2015 ozone pollution law [5]. The EPA is resisting this change and attorneys have filed the Court of Appeals to postpone oral arguments involving this case, saying it needs “adequate time to fully review the rule” [1]. The debate is currently slated for April 19th under the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, but EPA is pushing for a delayed time [1].

A coalition of 17 states has filed a legal challenge against Trump, saying there is a “legal duty” to regulate emissions [4]. New York state led the coalition and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman stated that “the law is clear: the EPA must limit carbon pollution from power plants” [4]. Although the group also wants to prevent the Trump administration from repealing the law, they disagree with the EPA and filed a motion on Wednesday to not delay court proceedings [4]. According to the statement, they argued “this case is ripe for decision now, and nothing that EPA has proposed to do obviates the need for this court’s review” [4].

Not everyone is in opposition to Trump repealing Obama’s ozone restrictions. The coal power industry and its supporters now believe they have “a fighting chance” under Trump [3]. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) says that coal plants are closing prematurely due to renewable energy tax credits and state and national global warming laws [3]. The EIA argues that these restrictions increase the cost of coal mining and plant building and creates substantial job loss with minimal benefits to the environment [3]. Environmentalists disagree and see restrictions to the coal industry as a vital regulation to prevent global warming and protect public health [3].

The decision that will be made by Trump’s Administration to repeal, keep, or modify Obama’s restrictions on ground-level ozone and smog production will be met with controversy from environmentalists who argue that the limitations are necessary to protect the environment or those in the coal industry who think that the restrictions increase the cost of power production and reduce jobs. The EPA has filed to postpone the debate and there is currently no word on whether or not this postponement will be granted.
 

References

  1. Eilperin, Juliet. "It’s Not Just Climate: EPA Hints That It Could Roll Back Obama’s Smog Rule." WashingtonPost.com. Washington Post, 7 Apr. 2017. Web. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/04/07/trumps-epa-makes-first-moves-on-obama-era-smog-protections/?utm_term=.14d7911eb969

  2. Eilperin, Juliet, and Joby Warrick. "Obama Administration Tightens Smog Limits but Satisfies Few." WashingtonPost.com. Washington Post, 1 Oct. 2015. Web.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/10/01/obama-administration-to-tighten-smog-limits-but-will-satisfy-no-one/?utm_term=.eb8e16824d46

  3. Bastasch, Michael. "The Coal Industry May Have ‘A Fighting Chance’ Under Trump." DailyCaller.com. Daily Caller, 6 Apr. 2017. Web. http://dailycaller.com/2017/04/06/the-coal-industry-may-have-a-fighting-chance-under-trump/

  4. Valdmanis, Richard. "States Challenge Trump over Clean Power Plan." ScientificAmerica.com. Scientific America, 6 Apr. 2017. Web. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/states-challenge-trump-over-clean-power-plan/

  5. Cama, Timothy. "EPA May Seek to Repeal Obama Ozone Pollution Rule." TheHill.com. The Hill, 7 Apr. 2017. Web.     http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/327928-epa-may-seek-to-repeal-obama-ozone-pollution-rule

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