At an event on Monday meant to encourage an end to “the war on coal,” Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt announced plans to roll back the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, beginning a long pivot in an industry where many companies are already committed to alternate energy sources.

An EPA announcement explained the choice was made to “facilitate the development of U.S. energy resources and reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens associated with the development of those resources.”

Supporters of clean energy initiatives have said they will not back down in the face of an administration which remains lukewarm on climate change. While politicians who support the plan argue that it will put energy regulation back into the hands of individual states, some of those states are set to sue the EPA if the repeal is finalized. (Other states sued when it went into effect.)

At least year’s ABB Customer World conference in Houston, several talks revolved around how to comply with federal energy regulations. The attitude there was one of inevitability: as they say, a big ship takes a long time to turn around. Companies that began installing new or different equipment may not expect to replace that equipment for many years. In terms of job growth in new energy industries, the U.S. solar workforce grew for four consecutive years to 260,000 total workers in January 2017. The coal mining industry employs 52,000 people as of September 2017.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) Policy Editor Steph Munro said on Tuesday that coal is unlikely to return.

“Withdrawing the Clean Power Plan won’t clear the deck for new coal generation. The economics of natural gas and renewables are more favorable, now and in our future scenarios. If Administrator Pruitt intends to bring back coal, it will require some form of quota or mandate system. We don’t see traction for coal mandates in Congress or the regulatory bureaucracy. We reiterate our position that the retirement of aging coal plants, combined with the economics of natural gas and renewables, will continue to drive reductions of greenhouse gas emissions in the power sector. The other major source of CO2 are emissions from vehicle tailpipes, which are the subject of a separate review by the Trump administration."

Google, Apple, and Microsoft have all made statements in support of the existing climate rules.

Other industry members, such as the chairman of the Arkansas Public Service commission, said states could meet the Clean Power Plan’s goals without “wrenching” changes made at the federal level.

As of yesterday, the EPA has not announced a plan to replace the previous one. Utility companies are now waiting to find out how a replacement and possible litigation from states or activist groups are likely to effect the industry.

Real Time Digital Reporter