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Scott Pruitt, head of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said he will on Tuesday formally announce a repeal of the Clean Power Plan, a signature effort by former US President Barack Obama to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
"The war on coal is over," Pruitt said in a televised speech at an event in the US coal state of Kentucky on Monday, Xinhua news agency reported.
"Tomorrow in Washington DC, I'll be signing a proposed rule to withdraw the so-called Clean Power Plan of the past administration and thus begin the effort to withdraw that rule."
Pruitt claimed that the Obama administration was "using every bit of power, every bit of authority to use the EPA to pick winners and losers in how we generate electricity in this country. And that's wrong."
A copy of the leaked proposal obtained by US media showed that Pruitt will scrap the plan citing reasons that it "exceeds the EPA's statutory authority."
"The EPA welcomes comment on the legal interpretation addressed in this proposed rulemaking," wrote the leaked proposal.
Gina McCarthy, the EPA administrator under Obama who released the Clean Power Plan, said in a statement that a proposal to repeal it "without any timeline or even a commitment to propose a rule to reduce carbon pollution, isn't a step forward."
"It's a wholesale retreat from EPA's legal, scientific and moral obligation to address the threats of climate change," McCarthy said.
"The (current) administration is using contrived problems with our energy system to take money out of consumers' pockets and giving it to fossil fuel companies, so they can force a shift away from clean energy and back to dirty fossil fuel," she said.
The Obama administration issued the plan in October 2015, requiring coal-fired power plants to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. However, the US Supreme Court voted five to four later to put it on hold.
In March this year, President Donald Trump signed an executive order, directing the EPA to "suspend, revise, or rescind" the Obama-era rule.
Trump, who once called climate change a "hoax," also announced in June that his country will leave the Paris Agreement on curbing global warming.
His position on climate change was met with widespread criticism both at home and abroad.
A US environmental organization, the Natural Resources Defense Council, tweeted that the Clean Power Plan is the most important step the US has ever taken to curb dangerous impacts from climate change and that if the plan is repealed, it will take the EPA to court.
Myron Ebell, head of the non-profit libertarian think tank Competitive Enterprise Institute, however, cheered the repeal as a step "designed to get the economy moving again."
"If it had gone into effect, the 'Clean Power' Plan rule to limit greenhouse gas emissions from coal and natural gas power plants would have been one of the most expensive regulations ever imposed, causing electric rates for consumers to go up and threatening the reliability of the electric grid," he said in a statement.