WASHINGTON — A court ruling Tuesday striking down a Trump administration’s Affordable Clean Energy Rule, a rule change lessening regulations on air pollution from power plants burning fossil fuels, is “a disaster,” a West Virginia senator said.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia unanimously said the rule was based on a “mistaken reading of the Clean Air Act” and the Environmental Protection Agency “fundamentally has misconceived the law.”
“The D.C. Circuit’s striking down of the ACE Rule today, timed by the panel’s liberal majority for the last full day of the Trump administration, is a disaster for regulatory certainty in the power sector, particularly for coal production and generation states,” U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said.
Capito said the decision will disrupt the regulatory program in West Virginia, which was nearing finalization and based on the Affordable Clean Energy Rule.
“The timing precludes the Trump EPA from addressing the purported issues and provides a rationale for the Biden EPA immediately to try to advance a new rule,” Capito said. “The Biden EPA must not follow the path of the disastrous and so-called ‘Clean Power Plan,’ which was an unrealistic, illegal regulation that would have strangled West Virginia’s energy economy before it was stopped by the Supreme Court.”
Capito also said she would “have pointed questions for the Biden administration and its nominees” about its plans to regulate the greenhouse gas emissions.
FirstEnergy, parent company of Monongahela Power, responding to a request for comment about the decision, referred the newspaper to a statement it issued in November about its emission goals for 30 years ahead.
The company announced it pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and set an interim goal for a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gases based on the levels from 2019.
“We believe climate change is among the most important issues of our time,” Steven E. Strah, president and acting chief executive officer, said.
“We will help address this challenge by building a more climate-resilient energy system and supporting the transition to a carbon-neutral economy,” he said. “Our ambitious new carbon goal and comprehensive climate strategy are fully aligned with our regulated business strategy and support our commitments to our customers, communities and investors, as well as environmental stewardship.”