Hogan administration presses Trump EPA not to abandon Obama-era plan to cut air pollution

Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration has formally lodged its opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency’s planned repeal of an Obama-era program to reduce pollution that comes from power plants.

In a letter, Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles told EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt that the state opposes the annulment of what is known as the Clean Power Plan unless it is replaced with an “effective and enforceable” alternative to cut emissions.

Grumbles also asked the EPA to hold a hearing on the issue in Annapolis or the Baltimore area before making a final decision.

“It is pivotal that EPA have the benefit of hearing firsthand from our residents,businesses, and communities about how the repeal will affect Maryland’s progress and the importance of coordinated action to reduce greenhouse gas emission and air pollution,” Grumbles wrote in the letter dated Monday.

President Donald Trump’s administration announced in October its intention to repeal the plan. Pruitt said the move would put an end to “the war on coal.”

The Hogan administration said it would set back Maryland’s efforts to clean its air, particularly because most of the state’s air pollution is said to blow in from elsewhere.

The letter is the Hogan’s administration’s latest challenge to the Trump administration, after it recently joined a lawsuit demanding the EPA do more to address interstate smog. Last week, Hogan directed Attorney General Brian Frosh to explore a lawsuit over possible oil and gas drilling off Maryland’s coast. Both Trump and Hogan are Republicans.

Former President Barack Obama’s Democratic administration adopted the Clean Power Plan with a goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions across the nation by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The plan set state-by-state goals to reduce power plant pollution, and were expected to be a significant burden on states that rely heavily on coal power.

Maryland has several coal-power plants but has already adopted emissions standards that are tougher than those in other states.

Frosh and leaders of the Maryland General Assembly plan to discuss their concerns about the power plan’s repeal at an event Thursday in Annapolis.

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