In 2015, President Obama’s EPA released the final version of a rule they called the “Clean Power Plan.”

The “CPP” was a wrong-headed mistake, guaranteed to make American power more expensive while not meaningfully cleaning anything.

EPA is now working to rectify Obama’s CPP and has unveiled a replacement called the “Affordable Clean Energy” rule.

In promulgating the CPP, EPA indulged in severe bureaucratic overreach when it went beyond the authority granted it under the Clean Air Act and issued its infamous “endangerment finding,” through which it labeled CO2, the essential gas you just exhaled, a “pollutant.”

A Manhattan Institute study found that EPA overestimated the benefits of Obama’s CPP and underestimated its costs.  In reality there is no meaningful benefit at all.  The CPP would lower world temperature only 0.01 degrees Celsius by 2100 if EPA’s choice of climate modeling is accurate. Of course, such models never are!

Obama’s CPP was so egregious that no less than 27 states filed suit to block it, along with a host of others.  Even the generally reluctant Supreme Court weighed in and granted a nationwide “stay” blocking the CPP from taking effect!

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce posted seven ways they find the Affordable Clean Energy Rule to be better than Obama’s plan:

  • EPA doesn’t stray beyond the bounds of the Clean Air Act
  • States are truly in the driver’s seat
  • “Flexibility” isn’t just a tag line
  • New source review is addressed
  • Useful life considerations for coal plants are permitted
  • Emissions will continue to decline
  • Vastly improved regulatory process

The Chamber is correct that the Trump Administration’s new rule is a major improvement over Obama’s CPP. However, we believe EPA should go further and admit that its economy-wrecking CO2 “endangerment finding” was also in error, and then scrap that too!

The CPP recklessly limited America’s energy mix in ways certain to hurt consumers and industry.  CFACT senior policy analyst Bonner Cohen explains at The Hill:

Having diversified sources of power — natural gas, coal, nuclear, oil, hydroelectric and other renewables — has enabled the U.S. economy to avoid the perils of being overly dependent on one source of electricity. The CPP, by pushing utilities to shutter coal-fired power plants, seriously undermined that diversification and threatened the reliability of the grid.

EPA’s new approach empowers energy companies to use technology to solve America’s energy challenges.  That’s the kind of challenge the American economy is geared to meet.

China now emits more CO2 than the U.S. and E.U. combined, while America has led the world in reducing emissions as a result of its shale energy revolution.  Over the last two years China claimed to be reducing emissions for climate policy.  That was a lie.  Chinese emissions peaked when its economy temporarily declined.  Satellite images revealed that as soon as its economy picked back up, China went right back to building new coal plants.  Chinese coal use is set to increase four percent right away.

Restricting American coal, while China and India and others expand their use of it as quickly as their economies allow, is foolish — unless you think shifting even more manufacturing from the U.S. to Asia is a good thing.

EPA is doing the right thing by replacing Obama’s ill-conceived “Clean Power Plan” with a smarter “Affordable Clean Energy” rule.  While not perfect and improvements can still be made, it is clearly a step in the right direction.


  • Craig Rucker is a co-founder of CFACT and currently serves as its president.