SALT LAKE CITY — In a move surprising just about no one, the Trump administration announced its intent to repeal a controversial federal rule reducing emissions from the nation's power plants by 30 percent.
The Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which was legally challenged by Utah and about two dozen other states, sought to direct more investment in alternative energy sources by regulating greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.
Each state, under the rule, was required to come up with an individual emissions target based on a variety of factors, including power generation.
Critics said the rule overstepped the authority of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency because it failed to properly account for implementation costs.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, in a Monday announcement in coal-rich Kentucky, said he would begin the process of the rule's repeal this week.
Last year, the Supreme Court blocked the rule from taking effect to give states more time to analyze costs and ways to comply with its requirements.
Utah, like the other states, had two "targets" to meet contingent on which approach it takes to measure emissions.
Under a rate-based approach, the final target Utah was required to achieve by 2030 was a reduction of 37 percent from 2012 emission levels, or a reduction of 1,179 pounds of emissions per megawatt-hour of electricity generated.
A general "mass" reduction in the amount of emissions would be 23 percent.
The plan impacted 11 power plants in the state. Five of those are coal-fired power plants under state jurisdiction, one is a coal-fired plant on Native American reservation lands, and the remaining five are natural gas power plants.
Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning said Pruitt's announcement paves the way for more growth and cheaper electricity.
"The new and existing coal power plant rules under the Clean Power Plan was the Obama administration's key to the war on coal, resulting in plant shutdowns across the country, including the Ohio River Valley," Manning said Monday.
Multiple environmental groups blasted the decision, including the Sierra Club — the central architect in the movement to keep coal in the ground.
"With this news, Donald Trump and Scott Pruitt will go down in infamy for launching one of the most egregious attacks ever on public health, our climate and the safety of every community in the United States," said Michael Brune, the Sierra Cub's executive director.