EPA head Scott Pruitt wants to dismantle the policy known as the Clean Power Plan, adopted in 2015 to help reduce greenhouse gases.
The current EPA calls the regulation an overreach, and says companies could save billions in compliance costs.
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse said the decision undermines efforts to battle climate change. He added the deregulation will do little to revive the coal industry, which is losing business to cheaper natural gas and renewable energy.
“They can have a feel-good day, undoing another Obama legacy, and making that declaration, but it isn’t going to change the trajectory for coal, and it isn’t going to change the progress for clean and renewable energy,” said Whitehouse.
Whitehouse said he believes the decision is part of a larger effort by President Donald Trump’s administration to hobble the EPA.
“There’s a more persistent desire to damage the institution, by driving qualified people out, by trying to bring scientists who are not real scientists, but are industry hacks, and are trying to fill the upper positions with people who are pure goons for the fossil fuel industry or the chemical industry,” said Whitehouse.
The Clean Power Plan is currently on hold as it works through legal challenges at the Supreme Court. Whitehouse sits on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.