California leads a federal lawsuit over replacement of the Clean Power Plan
States across the country are suing the Trump administration in an attempt to overthrow the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule, which was passed by the EPA this summer to loosen restrictions on coal-fired power plants.
An alliance of six cities, the District of Columbia, and 22 states including California, Michigan, and New York has joined forces to ask a federal court to put a stop to the legislation before it is ever implemented.
The ACE rule was designed to directly undermine the emissions-reductions targets that were adopted by the Clean Power Plan (CPP). The Trump administration claimed the CPP was “an overreach of EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act.”
Created by former President Obama, the CPP set a 2030 goal of reducing carbon pollution by 32 percent below 2005 levels. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), power sector emissions had already decreased by 28 percent in 2017, 13 years ahead of schedule.
The CPP was also combatting the enormous costs associated with climate change and the damaging health effects of air pollution, and was projected to save the country an estimated $25 to $45 billion by 2030.
In the same time frame, the CPP was expected to reduce the pollutants that contribute to smog and soot by 25 percent, helping to avoid 140,000 to 150,000 asthma attacks among children and up to 6,600 premature deaths.
But the ACE rule, which was finalized in June, will allow for much of this progress to be dismantled by allowing states to set their own standards for coal plants.
“This is a perversion of the Clean Air Act, which requires EPA to set performance targets and requires state plans to meet those targets,” stated the NRDC.
The lawsuit to stop the ACE rule was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington this week. The move was announced on Tuesday by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Governor Gavin Newsom, and Mary Nichols, the chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board.
The California officials said the new EPA rules will be damaging to both the climate and the economy.
“President Trump’s attempt to gut our nation’s Clean Power Plan is foolish – and it’s also unlawful,” said Becerra, who pointed out that the ACE rule would hurt the emerging energy market as well. “Because we’re prepared to confront the climate crisis head-on, we’re prepared to confront President Trump head-on in court.”
Many critics believe that President Trump’s new rule is yet another effort to support the fading coal industry. The jurisdictions behind the latest legal battle intend to expose that, regardless of the motivation behind it, the ACE rule puts both the environment and human health at risk.
“They are in the short-term business,” Governor Newsom said of the Trump administration. “California is in the future business. We are leaping ahead.” He added that the world is looking to his state to take on Trump and defend climate policies.
“California is proving that smart climate policies are good for our economy and good for the planet,” said Governor Newsom. “As the Trump administration attempts to obliterate national climate protections, California will continue advancing the cause of American climate leadership.”
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