Pro-Clean Power Plan states urge Trump not to abandon carbon rule

Supporters say plan important to cutting GHG emissions

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Top legal officials in more than a dozen states have asked President-elect Donald Trump not to abandon the much-debated Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Power Plan (CPP).

“The Clean Power Plan is a pivotal step toward reducing harmful carbon-dioxide emissions from power plants and has been essential to our national effort to address climate change,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said in a Dec. 29 news release. “For many years, Massachusetts and other states have been leaders in advancing a clean energy agenda, and it is critical that the federal government continue to be a partner in that effort.”

In addition to Massachusetts, the letter is endorsed by the attorneys general of New York, California, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, the District of Columbia, along with local government officials in Boulder, Colorado., New York City, Broward County, Florida and South Miami, Florida.

The pro-Clean Power Plan states stress that the regulatory package places the first nationwide limits on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit heard a legal challenge to the carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction plan in September.

It is widely believed that whatever side loses will appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. But Trump, a Republican, campaigned in coal mining states on opposition to the rule. The measure would require states to draft plans to curb power sector CO2 emissions 32% by 2030.

The letter also asks the president-elect to reject the “misguided advice” of a group of states led by West Virginia that the president-elect discard the Clean Power Plan by taking action to withdraw the court case, noting that this move would “assuredly lead to more litigation.”

“Our states and local governments are on the front lines of climate change,” the pro-CPP officials say in the letter.

“We see firsthand the significant human and economic costs inflicted by unchecked carbon pollution: whether it is harms from severe drought in California, catastrophic storm surge in New York City, a record deluge on the Front Range in Colorado, routine high tide flooding in Hampton Roads, Virginia and in South Florida, or diminished shellfish harvest in Oregon and Washington state,” the legal officials said.

“Therefore, we urge you to continue the federal government’s defense of the Clean Power Plan, a well-considered and critical rule that reasonably limits emissions from fossil-fueled power plants, our nation’s largest source of carbon pollution,” the pro-CPP officials said in the letter.

“We also write in response to a December 14 letter from West Virginia and other states to Vice President-Elect [Mike] Pence and congressional leaders urging that your incoming Administration unravel the Clean Power Plan by taking action in court to formally withdraw it and issuing a “day one” executive order declaring the rule to be unlawful and prohibiting EPA from enforcing it,” the pro-CPP officials said.

Anti-CPP states trying to get rule discarded

But the pro-Clean Power Plan localities seem to face long odds – the program is the signature environmental effort of the Obama administration after all. In addition, a larger group of states are opposing it on various legal, economic and grid reliability grounds.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton lead a 24-state coalition urging President-elect Trump and congressional leaders to withdraw the Clean Power Plan.

“Since the day this unlawful Rule was finalized, our States and state agencies have opposed it,” the anti-Clean Power Plan AGs said in their December letter to Pence. “In February of this year, we obtained an unprecedented stay of the Clean Power Plan from the United States Supreme Court. In September, we presented oral argument on the merits of the Rule before the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.”

The foes of the Clean Power Plan assert in the letter that it is “unlawful under the Clean Air Act, unconstitutional, and directly intrudes on policy prerogatives that traditionally lie with the States.”

Wayne Barber
About the Author

Wayne Barber

Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants.

Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.

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