Coal industry officials say they are outraged by comments by the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt that he thinks the federal government should stop regulating and that the agency should move forward with its proposed rule that would end coal-fired power plants’ role in the nation’s air.
In a series of tweets Monday, Pruitt called the proposed rule “dangerous” and said it would “end the American dream.”
“If you don’t like what I’m saying, then stop listening to me,” Pruitt said in one of the tweets.
The comments come after Trump, who is expected to announce his first pick for the role on Wednesday, issued an executive order that calls for the EPA to repeal its rule.
But Pruitt has also suggested that the Trump administration could ease restrictions on coal-burning power plants and coal-heavy sources of electricity, such as natural gas and nuclear power.
The EPA said it was working to address Pruitt’s remarks, which came at the end of a speech at the Environmental Law and Policy Center in New York City.
“We are concerned that the remarks of a senior official in the Trump Administration could lead to further harm to coal, gas, and nuclear energy,” said Scott R. Baugh, executive director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign.
“At a time when coal, methane, and CO2 emissions are on the rise, and as the EPA moves to repeal this rule, we urge the Trump EPA to immediately end its dangerous and unnecessary rulemaking.”
The Trump administration, meanwhile, said in a statement that Pruitt’s comments were “not reflective of our administration’s approach to environmental protection, and are not reflective of the administration’s vision for America’s future.”
The EPA also said Pruitt was “unaware of any significant federal studies or data on coal’s health and safety impacts.”
“The Trump EPA is not focused on creating a new regulatory regime that will benefit the coal industry,” the agency said.
Pruitt’s tweet about the proposed regulation came after he was asked during a Senate hearing Tuesday if the Trump government should reverse the rule, a proposal that has faced widespread opposition in the West.
Pruitt has previously said he favors repealing the rule.
“I would hope that that would be something that would happen,” he said in an interview on Fox News on Monday.
The Trump EPA has yet to issue a final decision on whether to keep the rule in place.
The agency announced in February that it was taking action to end its coal-based power plant regulations, which would have required states to make a decision by the end in 2025.
The rule would have allowed states to choose to phase out coal-powered power plants within five years.
But the EPA said that would not work under the Trump-era rule.
Pruitt was asked about the proposal in his Senate hearing and he said, “I do not believe that it’s a good rule, that it does not make sense, and that I believe it will have an adverse effect on states.”
Pruitt said that his administration is looking into the proposal, and the EPA has begun reviewing the rule to determine how to address the concerns raised by those in the coal-producing states.
“The EPA has already taken actions to address coal’s impact on air quality and greenhouse gas emissions,” the EPA statement said.
“While the EPA is still considering this proposal, the agency will continue to do so as necessary.
We also continue to encourage states to consider their options.”