Quantcast

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

Politics
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aimed at fixing the problem and protecting people's health, safety, and the environment, the Trump Administration repealed the Clean Power Plan and replaced it with this 'Dirty Power' rule."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.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

samael334 / iStock / Getty Images

By Ruairi Robertson, PhD

Berries are small, soft, round fruit of various colors — mainly blue, red, or purple.

Read More Show Less
A glacier is seen in the Kenai Mountains on Sept. 6, near Primrose, Alaska. Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey have been studying the glaciers in the area since 1966 and their studies show that the warming climate has resulted in sustained glacial mass loss as melting outpaced the accumulation of new snow and ice. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

By Mark Mancini

On Aug. 18, Iceland held a funeral for the first glacier lost to climate change. The deceased party was Okjökull, a historic body of ice that covered 14.6 square miles (38 square kilometers) in the Icelandic Highlands at the turn of the 20th century. But its glory days are long gone. In 2014, having dwindled to less than 1/15 its former size, Okjökull lost its status as an official glacier.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Members of Chicago Democratic Socialists of America table at the Logan Square Farmers Market on Aug. 18. Alex Schwartz

By Alex Schwartz

Among the many vendors at the Logan Square Farmers Market on Aug. 18 sat three young people peddling neither organic vegetables, gourmet cheese nor handmade crafts. Instead, they offered liberation from capitalism.

Read More Show Less
StephanieFrey / iStock / Getty Images

By Lauren Panoff, MPH, RD

Muffins are a popular, sweet treat.

Read More Show Less
Hackney primary school students went to the Town Hall on May 24 in London after school to protest about the climate emergency. Jenny Matthews / In Pictures / Getty Images

By Caroline Hickman

Eco-anxiety is likely to affect more and more people as the climate destabilizes. Already, studies have found that 45 percent of children suffer lasting depression after surviving extreme weather and natural disasters. Some of that emotional turmoil must stem from confusion — why aren't adults doing more to stop climate change?

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Myrtle warbler. Gillfoto / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Bird watching in the U.S. may be a lot harder than it once was, since bird populations are dropping off in droves, according to a new study.

Read More Show Less
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announces the co-founding of The Climate Pledge at the National Press Club on Sept. 19 in Washington, DC. Paul Morigi / Getty Images for Amazon

The day before over 1,500 Amazon.com employees planned a walkout to participate in today's global climate strike, CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled a sweeping plan for the retail and media giant to be carbon neutral by 2040, 10 years ahead of the Paris agreement schedule.

Read More Show Less

By Winona LaDuke

For the past seven years, the Anishinaabe people have been facing the largest tar sands pipeline project in North America. We still are. In these dying moments of the fossil fuel industry, Water Protectors stand, prepared for yet another battle for the water, wild rice and future of all. We face Enbridge, the largest pipeline company in North America, and the third largest corporation in Canada. We face it unafraid and eyes wide open, for indeed we see the future.

Read More Show Less