Dismantling the Clean Power Plan

Editor's note:

In Unpacked, Brookings experts provide analysis of Trump administration policies and news.

THE ISSUE: In late March, President Trump signed an executive order on energy independence, which effectively unraveled several energy orders and initiated a review of the Clean Power Plan, a key component of the Obama administration’s environmental policy.

By dismantling the Clean Power Plan, the U.S. loses out on its various economic, health, and environmental benefits, and reduces its ability to hit longer-term goals that lead to climate stabilization.


  • The Clean Power Plan (CPP) sought to decrease American emissions that contribute to climate change.
  • The CPP aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector (responsible for approximately 30 percent of America’s overall greenhouse gas emissions) by roughly 32 percent by 2030.
  • In addition to the implications for greenhouse gas emissions, dismantling the CPP affects the U.S. economy, jobs, human health, and the environment.
  • Economically, this action favors coal and fossil fuel jobs at the expense of clean energy jobs.
  • A recent Department of Energy statistic showed that there are roughly three million jobs in the U.S. that are supported by clean energy and only about 150,000 that are supported by coal. Undoing the CPP pushes jobs away from the flourishing clean energy sector.
  • In terms of health, the CPP was anticipated to prevent nearly 3,600 deaths per year by the time it was completed in 2030, and prevent roughly 1,700 heart attacks, 90,000 asthma attacks, and 300,000 lost school and workdays each year.
  • By dismantling the CPP, the U.S. will lose out on the economic and health benefits see a reduction in its ability to hit longer-term goals that lead to climate stabilization.
  • There are a number of areas in the U.S. that are especially vulnerable to climate change that could be further exposed to the damaging effects of climate change with the removal of the CPP.
  • Internationally, these energy actions threaten the American commitment to the Paris Agreement, which the U.S. helped champion.
  • Signed in late 2015, the Paris Agreement is a global agreement through which countries around the world set national targets for how they would reduce their emissions or otherwise address climate change in a national context.
  • The Paris Agreement was a good way for the U.S. to contribute to national targets, benefitting environmental health and economic goals domestically, but also working in coordination with other countries around the world, to contribute to a collective solution to climate change.
  • The Trump administration’s recent environmental actions, including the rollback of the CPP mean that the U.S. is less likely to hit its environmental target for 2025.
  • The Trump administration prioritizes energy independence. Wind and solar energy, as well as other clean energy technologies like electric vehicles and efficiency, can advance energy independence while still delivering jobs and cleaner environment.
  • As President Trump considers how to enhance the energy infrastructure, he could aggressively expand those technologies, actually generating jobs and economic activity as a result.