A coalition of public interest environmental groups is urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to overturn the Trump administration’s “Affordable Clean Energy” (ACE) – aka “Dirty Power Rule” – claiming to address climate change after the Environmental Protection Agency finalized a plan that would fail to avoid a global catastrophe.
Lisa McCormick, a New Jersey environmental explained that the groups filed a petition asking the appeals court to review the EPA’s Affordable Clean Energy rule, which would not cut power plant carbon pollution and the agency’s plan to dismantle the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, our best option to clean up those plants.
“The ACE rule replaced the Clean Power Plan, the first-ever nationwide limits on one of the largest sources of climate change pollution – existing fossil-fueled power plants,” said McCormick. “Climate change pollution from American power plants must be reduced significantly by 2030 for the U.S. to meet the goal of limiting worldwide temperature increase to less than 2 degrees Celsius and avoid catastrophically disrupting both human civilization and natural ecosystems.”
The groups are: Appalachian Mountain Club, Center for Biological Diversity, Clean Air Council, Clean Wisconsin, Conservation Law Foundation, Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Law & Policy Center, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Sierra Club.
The Clean Power Plan established America’s first and only nationwide limit on carbon pollution from existing power plants. It would reduce climate pollution to 36 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 and would reduce deadly soot and smog.
The Trump administration repealed the Clean Power Plan and finalized its ACE rule in June. The destructive replacement standard will provide no meaningful reduction in dangerous climate pollution, and analysis by EDF shows that 16 states could see an increase in climate pollutionbecause of it. Independent experts have also found that the ACE rule could increase the pollution that leads to soot and smog in as many as 14 states plus the District of Columbia, relative to “business as usual” without the rule.
Opponents of the Clean Power Plan have been fighting for years to stop it. Legal challenges to the original plan have been pending in the D.C. Circuit since 2015.
Since 2017, the Trump administration has repeatedly urged the D.C. Circuit not to decide the case while it worked on a rule to repeal and replace the Clean Power Plan.
In the meantime, evidence about the dangers of the climate change crisis has continued to mount, and states and power companies across the country have moved ahead toward reducing climate pollution from power plants – in some cases by much more than the Clean Power Plan called for.
“With climate change impacts rising, and clean energy costs falling, EPA should be strengthening the Clean Power Plan, not scrapping it for a do-nothing dirty power scheme,” said David Doniger, senior strategic director in NRDC’s Climate & Clean Energy program. “We’re going to court today to stop Trump from destroying the clean air laws we have to protect Americans’ health and safety from the nation’s biggest climate polluters.”
“The Trump administration’s repeal of the Clean Power Plan substituted a weak replacement for policies promulgated under President Obama’s leadership,” said McCormick. “This is a harmful rollback of responsible measures that could result in more air pollution from coal-fired power plants in many states. It’s both dumb and dangerous.”
“The Trump Administration’s ACE Rule is misguided policy, moves our nation backward in solving climate change problems, and misses opportunities for economic growth and innovation in the global shift to renewable energy,” said ELPC Executive Director Howard A. Learner. “The Environmental Law & Policy Center is joining in challenging the ACE rule because it’s on the wrong side of history and we owe it to future generations to keep our country on track to a cleaner, smarter future.”
“The Clean Power Plan is a powerful tool to address the severe and increasing dangers of climate change. The Trump administration’s replacement is inadequate to protect Americans’ health and safety from the climate crisis – and may result in more harmful air pollution in many states than no rule at all,” said EDF Lead Attorney Tomás Carbonell. “We look forward to presenting a compelling case to the court about why the Trump administration’s irresponsible and dangerous attack on our nation’s Clean Power Plan is unlawful.”
One day earlier, New York State Attorney General Letitia James, leading a coalition of 22 states and 7 local governments, announced a lawsuit against the Trump administration’s EPA over the same issue.
“The science is indisputable; our climate is changing. Ice caps are melting. Sea levels are rising. Weather is becoming more and more extreme,” said James. “Without significant course correction, we are careening towards a climate disaster. Rather than staying the course with policies aimed at fixing the problem and protecting people’s health, safety, and the environment, the Trump Administration repealed the Clean Power Plan and replaced it with this ‘Dirty Power’ rule.”
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