The Trump administration rolled out its proposal for gutting former President Barack Obama’s most sweeping climate change regulation Tuesday — a move that could also block any future Democratic president from trying to put it back together.
The proposal from the EPA goes to the core of the criticisms that the coal industry and conservatives lodged against Obama's 2015 regulation, which used a novel reading of the Clean Air Act to require states to cut greenhouse gas pollution from the power sector. The replacement from President Donald Trump’s EPA would give states far more leeway to meet more modest climate goals — or even to opt of the program entirely.
But the new rule’s biggest impact could come from the inevitable lawsuits that environmental groups and Democratic-leaning states will file against Trump’s proposal. If they lose, the result could be a court decision enshrining the Trump administration’s hobbled approach to climate regulation as the only reasonable approach under the law — slamming the door shut on any later attempts to recreate Obama’s handiwork.