Wall Street Journal: Acting EPA head signs Trump admin proposal that would release more CO2 into the air
The Journal reported that acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed a proposal that calls for states to regulate emissions from power plants, undoing a move from President Barack Obama that made those emissions regulated by the federal government for the first time.
"The entire Obama administration plan was centered around doing away with coal," Wheeler told the Journal in an interview.
Wheeler is expected to formally announce the decision in a news call with reporters Tuesday morning.
The proposal is projected to release 12 times the amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere compared with Obama's Clean Power Plan, according to The Washington Post.
President Donald Trump could speak about the plan publicly Tuesday at a rally in West Virginia, according to officials who spoke to The Washington Post and The New York Times.
The new proposal contradicts the Clean Power Plan, introduced in 2015. Obama's plan required states to meet specific carbon emission reduction standards based on their individual energy consumption. This rule was the first time emissions had been regulated at the federal level.
Obama's plan was temporarily blocked by the Supreme Court in 2016 after 29 states and the energy industry sued the administration, arguing it was unconstitutional and outside of the federal government's power to regulate.
This new proposal is the latest move in the Trump administration's continued effort to reverse what Trump dubbed his predecessor's "war on coal." Former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt initially announced that his agency planned to withdraw and review the Obama Clean Power Plan in October 2017.
"We are going to put our coal miners back to work," Trump said at a March 2017 event in Kentucky. "They have not been treated well, but they're going to be treated well now."
"By removing and replacing it with a rule that will actually increase emissions, this is removing the biggest action that Obama took to combat climate change," Conrad Schneider, advocacy director of the nonprofit Clean Air Task Force, told CNN.
The EPA did not respond to CNN's request for comment on the proposal.
A new plan
In a 300-page impact analysis of the new proposal, the EPA found the plan would make only minor reductions to the emissions of substances like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, the Post reported.
By 2030, the new proposal will cut CO2 emissions from 2005 levels by 0.7% to 1.5%. Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide would be cut from 1% to 2% by 2030 compared with 2005 levels, according to administration officials who spoke to the Post.
"The rule very likely would increase emissions relative to the Clean Power Plan, and it may increase emissions relative to business as usual," Schneider said.
After the proposal is introduced, there will be a 60-day comment period. The proposal gives each state up to three years to develop its own emission reduction plan. Then the EPA has a year to determine whether the state's plan meets agency guidelines. If it does not, the EPA has another year to impose a federal plan on that state, the Post reported.
The policy change is the second in less than a month aimed at rolling back Obama-era emissions regulations. At the beginning of August, the administration proposed freezing a rule that required automakers to make cars substantially more fuel efficient.
Electricity production, which includes the burning of fossil fuels like coal and natural gas, made up 28 percent of US greenhouse gas emissions in 2016, which is the most recent publicly available data from the EPA.
The World Meteorological Organization, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and NASA found that 2016 was the warmest year on record, and the third consecutive year to rank hotter than all previous years.
"We are wasting time when we need to be reducing emissions," Schneider said.
Manafort jury ends third day without a verdict
Jurors will return Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. ET.
Manafort is charged with 18 counts of tax evasion, bank fraud and hiding foreign bank accounts in the first case brought to trial by special counsel Robert Mueller as part of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election. He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
Judge T.S. Ellis and both teams of lawyers met twice met Monday morning in private. The conversations lasted about 10 minutes each, and Ellis said transcripts will be made public at the end of the trial.
The trial carries major implications for the future of Mueller's investigation. Trump has repeatedly called the probe a "witch hunt" that hasn't found evidence of Russian collusion with his campaign, and his allies in and out of the White House say the special counsel should wrap things up.
While jurors have had the case to deliberate since Thursday morning, developments outside the jury room have added to the high-stakes nature of the trial as Trump continues to rail against Mueller and also defended Manafort.
"Study the late Joseph McCarthy, because we are now in period with Mueller and his gang that make Joseph McCarthy look like a baby! Rigged Witch Hunt!" Trump tweeted Sunday.
Trump on Friday called Manafort a "very good person" and the trial "very sad."
"I think the whole Manafort trial is very sad. ... I think it's a very sad day for our country," the President said at the White House. "He happens to be a very good person, and I think it's very sad what they've done to Paul Manafort."
Manafort's defense attorney Kevin Downing told reporters they "really appreciate the support of President Trump."
Also on Friday, Ellis said that he has received threats during the proceedings.
Ellis did not disclose details about the threats he had received. But he said they were enough to make him wary of making the names of the 12 jurors and four alternates public in response to a request from media organizations.
"I've received criticism and threats. I'd imagine they would too," Ellis said, adding that US marshals accompany him everywhere, including an unnamed hotel where he's staying, but jurors don't have that protection.
"Mr. Manafort lied to keep more money when he had it, and he lied to get more money when he didn't," prosecutor Greg Andres told jurors during closing arguments. "This is a case about lies."
Prosecutors say Manafort collected $65 million in foreign bank accounts from 2010 to 2014 and spent more than $15 million on luxury purchases in the same period, including high-end clothing, real estate, landscaping and other big-ticket items.
They also allege that Manafort had lied to banks in order to take out more than $20 million in loans after his Ukrainian political work dried up in 2015, and they accused him of hiding the foreign bank accounts from federal authorities. Manafort received loans from the Federal Savings Bank after one of its executives sought a position in the Trump campaign and administration, according to prosecutors.
Defense attorney Richard Westling said Manafort became the special counsel's victim in a "selective process of pulling" his financial records to concoct a narrative of an "elaborate fraud scheme."
Manafort faces up to 305 years in prison if convicted on all charges.