U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt said President Trump will sign an executive order on Tuesday designed to boost the energy sector, and that the order could include rescinding the agency's Clean Power Plan (CPP).
During an appearance Sunday on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," Pruitt said Trump's order will have "energy independence" in the title and take a balanced approach between protecting jobs and the environment.
"Over the last several years, we have accepted a narrative that if you're pro-growth and pro-jobs, you're anti-environment," Pruitt said. "That's just not where we have been as a country, throughout our existence. We have made tremendous progress on our environment, and we can be both pro-jobs and pro-environment, and the executive order is going address the past administration's effort to kill jobs across this country through the CPP."
Pruitt later added that the Obama administration has been against the fossil fuel industry, a familiar refrain from Trump both on the campaign trail and since he took office last January. He also pointed out that in February 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay blocking implementation of the CPP until all legal challenges to the plan were resolved.
"Our actions starting on Tuesday, shortly after the executive order, will make sure that whatever steps we take in the future will be pro-growth, pro-environment, but within the framework of the Clean Air Act [CAA], and it will be legal," Pruitt said.
Pruitt told Stephanopoulos that he thought eliminating the CPP would bring coal and manufacturing jobs back across the country. "Across the energy sector, we have so much opportunity," he said. "The last administration had an idea of 'keeping it in the ground.' We need to be more independent, less reliant upon foreign energy sources, and this is an opportunity."
Pruitt also said that the United States' footprint for carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions was at its lowest level since 1994, and that innovation in the natural gas sector, especially from hydraulic fracturing (fracking), is partially responsible.
"Horizontal drilling has allowed there to be much more conversion to natural gas in the generation of electricity," Pruitt said. "We've got to keep in mind it's not just jobs that are going to be created by the president's action here. It's also lower electricity rates for consumers across the country.
"When you take coal generation facilities, natural gas facilities, and you put them aside and focus only on certain types of ways to generate electricity, it's causing double-digit increases across the country as it relates to consumers. That's not good for our economy on the consumer [or] the manufacturing side."
The EPA administrator added that Trump's executive order would not impact the commitments the United States made at a climate changesummit in Paris in December 2015.
"The Paris accord is non-binding; it was not a treaty," Pruitt said. "The CPP is not tethered to the Paris accords. This is an effort to undo the unlawful approach the previous administration engaged in and to do it right going forward with a mindset of being pro-growth and pro-environment...
"What was wrong with Paris was not just that it failed to be treated as a treaty, but China and India, the largest producers of CO2 internationally, got away scot-free. They didn't have to take steps until 2030. So we penalized ourselves through lost jobs while China and India didn't take steps to address the issue internationally. Paris was just a bad deal, in my estimation. But we're trying to focus on getting things right here domestically and making sure that we operate within the framework of the CAA."
Earlier this month, the Trump administration unveiled a proposed $1.15 trillion budget that included a call for the EPA to terminate climate change programs, including the CPP.
The Obama administration unveiled the final version of the CPP in August 2015. The plan, which embraces renewables, solar and wind power, but not so much natural gas, calls for states to reduce emissions by 32% below 2005 levels by 2030.
The CPP would have required that states develop and implement plans to ensure power plants in their state -- either as single plants or as a collective group -- achieve goals for reducing CO2 emissions between 2022 and 2029, and final CO2 emission performance rates by 2030. The CPP gave states the option of choosing between either an emissions standards plan or a state measures plan to reduce emissions. They also had the option of trading emissions rate credits with other states.