He said Trump's order would also lower electricity rates for Americans. Photograph: (Reuters)
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said rolling back Obama's 2015 Clean Power Plan would bring back coal jobs
President Donald Trump will sign an executive order Tuesday to undo his predecessor Barack Obama's plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fueled power plants, according to the new environmental chief.
Speaking on ABC's Sunday talk show "This Week," Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said rolling back Obama's 2015 Clean Power Plan would bring back coal jobs.
"The past administration had a very anti-fossil fuel strategy," he said. "So this is a promise (Trump) is keeping to the American people to say that we can put people back to work."
Told by ABC host George Stephanopolous that most coal job losses took place a decade ago under Obama's predecessor George W Bush -- as natural gas increasingly replaced coal -- Pruitt dismissed concerns that Trump had made a promise he can't keep.
"It will bring back manufacturing jobs across the country, coal jobs across the country," he said of the president's forthcoming order.
"For too long over the last several years, we have accepted a narrative that if you're pro-growth, pro-jobs, you're anti-environment," he added, accusing the Obama administration of making "efforts to kill jobs across this country through the clean power plan."
He said Trump's order would also lower electricity rates for Americans.
Supporters of the Clean Power Plan say it would help create thousands of clean-energy jobs.
A known fossil-fuel ally, Pruitt's appointment to head the EPA -- an agency he repeatedly sued as a state attorney general -- has been deeply contentious.
Earlier this month, the climate change sceptic said he believes carbon dioxide is not a primary contributor to global warming, as scientists have said for decades.
Trump's action comes as the Clean Power Plan rule has been on hold since last year while a federal appeals court considers a challenge by coal-friendly Republican-governed states and more than 100 companies.
Trump's proposed federal budget unveiled earlier this month already envisioned ending funding for the plan along with a number of other programs aimed at combating climate change.
Trump's order -- along with his promise to reverse rules about vehicle emissions -- would make it impossible for the United States to reach its commitments under the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
But Pruitt criticised the accord as a "bad deal."
"This is an effort to undo the unlawful approach the previous administration engaged in," he said of Trump's executive order, "and to do it right going forward with the mindset of being pro-growth and pro-environment."
He called Obama's emissions rules "counter-helpful to the environment."
As attorney general for Oklahoma, the 48-year-old Republican filed or joined in more than a dozen lawsuits to block key EPA rules, siding with industry executives and activists seeking to roll back various regulations on pollution, clean air and clean water.