Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

29 States and Cities Sue to Block Trump’s ‘Dirty Power’ Rule

Politics
29 States and Cities Sue to Block Trump’s ‘Dirty Power’ Rule
States and cities are suing the Trump administration over a power-plant emissions rule they argue does not do enough to fight climate change. Luke Sharrett / Bloomberg

Twenty-nine states and cities sued the Trump administration Tuesday to stop it from weakening the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which was the first regulation to set nationwide ceilings on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, The New York Times reported.


The administration's replacement, the Affordable Clean Energy Rule, would allow states to decide whether or not to limit emissions. It would ultimately reduce climate-warming emissions by less than half of what is needed to keep global temperatures from rising more than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, according to figures cited by HuffPost.

"Without significant course correction, we are careening towards a climate disaster," New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement reported by HuffPost. "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aimed at fixing the problem and protecting people's health, safety, and the environment, the Trump Administration repealed the Clean Power Plan and replaced it with this 'Dirty Power' rule."

At stake in the lawsuit is how much authority the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has to limit carbon pollution under the Clean Air Act. The 22 states and six cities (plus Washington, DC) behind the suit argue that the replacement plan, finalized in June, does not use the "best system of emissions reduction," as the act requires. While the Clean Power Plan encouraged utilities to switch to cleaner energy sources, put a price on carbon or use carbon capture technologies, the Trump plan only focuses on improving efficiency at individual plants, The New York Times explained.

"The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to utilize the best system of emissions reduction that it can find. This rule does the opposite," California Attorney General Xavier Becerra told The New York Times.

But EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler argued that the Clean Power Plan overstepped the federal government's authority. That was also the argument made by the coalition of Republican-led states and industry groups that sued to stop the Obama-era plan in 2015. In 2016, the Supreme Court blocked the roll-out of the plan until its legal merits could be decided. However, while the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit heard oral arguments in the fall of 2016, it had not issued a final ruling by the time President Donald Trump was elected, according to The Washington Post.

The Trump administration initially requested time to consider the plan, and then announced its intention to repeal it in 2017. If the current lawsuit reaches the Supreme Court, therefore, it could be the catalyst for determining how much authority the EPA has to fight the climate crisis going forward.

"From a public policy perspective, we should hope that this case goes to the Supreme Court — so that everyone who cares about climate change will know the limits of what EPA can do under current law to reduce industrial CO2 emissions," Jeff Holmstead, who led the EPA's air and radiation office under President George W. Bush and is now a partner at Bracewell, told The Washington Post.

But New York University environmental law expert professor Richard L. Revesz warned a Supreme Court ruling in favor of the Trump administration could have serious consequences.

"It would have a devastating effect on the ability of future administrations to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act," he told The New York Times.

The states behind the current suit are New York, California, Massachusetts, Colorado, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and the District of Columbia. The cities are Boulder, Colorado, Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, South Miami and Philadelphia. They filed the suit in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

An Edith's Checkerspot butterfly in Los Padres National Forest in Southern California. Patricia Marroquin / Moment / Getty Images

Butterflies across the U.S. West are disappearing, and now researchers say the climate crisis is largely to blame.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A wildfire burns in the Hollywood hills on July 19, 2016 in Hollywood, California. AaronP / Bauer-Griffin / GC Images

California faces another "critically dry year" according to state officials, and a destructive wildfire season looms on its horizon. But in a state that welcomes innovation, water efficacy approaches and drought management could replenish California, increasingly threatened by the climate's new extremes.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Wisdom is seen with her chick in Feb. 2021 at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. Jon Brack / Friends of Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge / Flickr / CC 2.0

Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.

Read More Show Less
Wind turbines in Norway. piola66 / E+ / Getty Images

By Hui Hu

Winter is supposed to be the best season for wind power – the winds are stronger, and since air density increases as the temperature drops, more force is pushing on the blades. But winter also comes with a problem: freezing weather.

Read More Show Less
Jaffa Port in Israel. theDOCK innovated the Israeli maritime space and kickstarted a boom in new technologies. Pixabay

While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.

Read More Show Less