Jan 5, 2018
By Emily Holden
Environmental Protection Agency staffers are under orders from the Trump administration to complete a replacement for former President Barack Obama’s major climate change rule by the end of the year, far faster than the normal pace the agency uses to develop major regulations, according to three sources familiar with the process.
That short time frame would give EPA lawyers the chance to defend the regulation from the legal challenges it is certain to face during President Donald Trump’s current term. That would allow the proposal from Scott Pruitt’s EPA to avoid the fate of the Obama EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which was held up in court and is now being rescinded by a new administration that opposed the original carbon dioxide regulation.
EPA’s air chief, Bill Wehrum, has directed staffers to develop a schedule for conducting analysis, public hearings and revisions that would be completed in 2018. Staff would need to complete a proposal by summer and allow time for the White House to review it before publication.
The tight timeline would mean that the agency would have to repeal and replace the Obama power-sector climate rule simultaneously but in separate processes. EPA would also have to finish revising a separate carbon rule for future fossil fuel plants, which must be in place in order to regulate existing generators.
Jeff Holmstead, a partner at the law firm Bracewell who ran EPA’s air office under former President George W. Bush, called the time frame “ambitious but not impossible.”