WASHINGTON — Andrew Wheeler, the acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, on Monday signed a plan to weaken regulation of coal-fired power plants, advancing a proposal that the coal industry has hailed as an end to burdensome regulation and environmentalists have criticized as a retreat in the battle to address climate change.
Mr. Wheeler’s signature officially sets in motion one of the Trump Administration’s most significant rollbacks yet of former President Barack Obama’s climate change legacy, alongside an earlier decision to let automobiles pollute more. A senior E.P.A. official confirmed the signing late Monday.
The agency is expected on Tuesday to discuss the details of its proposal, which it is calling the Affordable Clean Energy rule, to replace the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which was designed to curtail greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. The long-anticipated Trump administration overhaul of those rules is likely to set the stage for years of legal clashes.
President Trump is expected to head to West Virginia coal country, where in May 2016 that he donned a coal miner’s helmet and vowed to strip away regulations on the industry, on Tuesday and is likely to use the moment to tell supporters that he is following through on that promise.