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GOP calls on Trump to repeal over 200 rules; coal bullish over Trump's EPA pick

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GOP calls on Trump to repeal over 200 rules; coal bullish over Trump's EPA pick

Conservatives call on Trump to repeal over 200 rules, policies in 1st 100 days

The House Freedom Caucus rolled out a list of over 200 rules, regulations and policies that it wants President-elect Donald Trump to repeal in his first 100 days in office, several of which are focused on energy and climate change.

The list, which caucus chairman U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., released Dec. 14, calls for the incoming administration to eliminate 26 regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Energy. Those regulations include efficiency and conservation standards for housing and a range of facilities and appliances such as boilers, clothes washers, freezers, ceiling fans and central air conditioners.

The list included other rules that have been the frequent target of repeal threats from Trump and the GOP.

Trump's EPA pick offers past at odds with coal, but industry optimistic

The U.S. coal industry remains bullish about the selection of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the U.S. EPA by President-elect Donald Trump despite previous comments at odds with the industry's view on its recent challenges.

Pruitt was selected by Trump earlier this month, promising a staunch advocate against Obama administration regulations often cited as detrimental to the coal industry. As attorney general in Oklahoma, Pruitt led legal challenges to the EPA's Clean Power Plan and Clean Water Rule, allowing some confidence that he would prove to be an ally for energy producers in Washington, including the beleaguered coal sector.

However, in his capacity as attorney general, Pruitt also made comments at odds with the coal industry's position on what has been the largest cause of its downturn in recent years. Earlier this year, while giving testimony before the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology's Subcommittee on Environment regarding the impact of the EPA's carbon rule on states, Pruitt said that fracking and market forces, rather than EPA regulations, drove the shift away from coal in the nation's energy mix.

GOP-backed bills to block future regulations will likely fail, NRDC says

Republicans plan to revive legislation in the next Congress to block or limit creation of new federal regulations, including for the energy sector, but the Natural Resources Defense Council is confident the bills will not become law.

The U.S. House of Representatives will probably pass a "whole raft" of anti-regulation bills in the 115th Congress, said David Goldston, director of NRDC's government affairs program, at a Dec. 20 roundtable with reporters. The new session of Congress kicks off Jan. 3, 2017, and Republicans will be emboldened in their fight against federal regulations by having GOP President-elect Donald Trump enter the White House later that month.

Bills that would restrict future rules include the Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny Act, or REINS Act. The measure would require Congress to sign off on any new federal regulation that imposes significant costs on the economy before the rule could take effect. The House passed prior versions of the REINS Act in 2011 and 2013, but Democratic President Barack Obama threatened to veto the legislation.

Stream Protection Rule critics sharpen knives, prepare for push back

The U.S. Department of the Interior's Dec. 19 decision to finalize its highly contested Stream Protection Rule just one month before President Barack Obama leaves office drew scorn from critics of the regulation and promises to push back against the action in Congress.

The new regulation revises U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement rules to define "material damage to the hydrologic balance outside the permit area," and also requires each mining permit to pinpoint which mining-related impacts on groundwater and surface water would reach that level of damage. The rule also requires the collection of pre-mining environmental quality data and adjusts monitoring requirements to keep a closer eye on water quality trends.

Congressional coal advocates promised swift action to limit or reverse the rule as soon as possible, most likely coming in the form of the little-used Congressional Review Act to keep so-called midnight rules from taking effect.

Litigants of EPA's new source emissions rule seek delay of action ahead of Trump

The parties challenging the U.S. EPA's carbon emissions standards for new fossil fuel power plants want to delay any further court procedures until the incoming Trump administration is in place.

Arguing that the new administration's plans for the U.S. EPA could significantly impact the rule, the states and industry petitioners asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to push back the briefing schedule from Jan. 19, 2017, to Feb. 24, 2017. The petitioners, at least for now, are not seeking any change to the April 17, 2017, date set for oral arguments.

"The incoming presidential administration and its transition team have repeatedly indicated their intent to reconsider [President Barack Obama's] Climate Action Plan and its associated measures after taking office," the request reads. "The president-elect's transition team has announced that the new administration will 'conduct a top-down review of all anti-coal regulations issued by the Obama administration.'"

EPA drops efforts to finish Clean Power Plan's model trading rules

The U.S. EPA is walking away from efforts to finalize the draft model trading rules and other projects associated with the Clean Power Plan before the new administration takes over.

In a Dec. 19 blog post, Janet McCabe, EPA acting assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, explained that the agency decided to withdraw the Clean Power Plan's model trading rules and other related projects and post the work that has been completed as a working draft. "While these drafts are not final and we are not required to release them at this time, making them available now allows us to share our work to date and to respond to the states that have requested exit information prior to the end of the administration," McCabe wrote.

The documents also include guidance for demand-side energy efficiency, a draft Clean Power Plan tracking system and guidance to prevent the leakage of emissions from one source to another under certain trading schemes.

EPA argues 'expert judgment' in emissions reduction rule

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has filed a court brief defending a cap on the amount of emissions new power plants can produce.

"EPA reasonably exercised expert judgment in concluding that the best system of emission reduction for newly constructed steam generating units includes the use of a highly efficient boiler implementing partial CCS," said the document filed on Dec. 14 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. "The record amply supports EPA's conclusion that partial CCS is adequately demonstrated," it continued, citing cases such as that of Saskatchewan's Boundary Dam which it said has implemented full CCS at commercial scale.

The case stems from arguments made by North Dakota that the 1,400 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour on a gross output basis standard set by the EPA for new, reconstructed, and modified fossil fuel plants is unachievable. The state argued that the Clean Power Plan cannot exist without this new source rule.

EPA appeals court order to tally coal job losses attributable to regulations

The U.S. EPA has appealed an October ruling ordering it to craft a plan and schedule to comply with rules that require a tally of effects of its regulations on the U.S. coal industry.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia sided with Murray Energy Corp. in the Oct. 17 ruling, which came in response to a lawsuit from Murray alleging the EPA failed to comply with a mandatory duty to evaluate harm the agency's regulations "exact on the American workforce."

A district judge ordered the EPA to calculate coal job losses associated with its Clean Air Act regulations. The EPA said it would take years to comply, so Murray asked the judge to order the EPA cease publication of any new proposed and final rules affecting coal until it was completed. The EPA filed its appeal of the ruling on Dec. 16.