As Americans face urgent and growing threats from climate change and as the solutions for achieving deep reductions from power plants are at hand, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reportedly announced that it will “consider” proposing limits on the pollution that causes it. American needs deeper reductions faster, not Administrator Scott Pruitt’s cynical “repeal and replace.”
Pruitt is already trying to repeal America’s Clean Power Plan, which would limit carbon pollution from power plants and is the single largest step the U.S. has ever taken to address the threat of climate change. According to news reports, the agency announced a process to replace the Clean Power Plan that will drag on for years – and will likely end up with a feeble alternative or possibly no climate protections at all.
“EPA has an urgent legal and moral obligation to protect American families and communities from the harmful pollution that is destabilizing our climate,” said EDF Lead Attorney Tomás Carbonell. “Our nation needs stronger, faster climate protections, not Scott Pruitt’s cynical ‘repeal and replace’ of America’s Clean Power Plan. Delaying them, or ‘considering’ replacing them, is irresponsible. Nowhere does EPA’s notice give any indication that it recognizes the severity of the climate threat or the importance of putting in place more protective pollution limits.”
The Clean Power Plan provides crucial public health and economic benefits, and is supported by a diverse coalition of states, cities, power companies, public health and environmental groups – as well as by Americans in red and blue states alike. The Trump Administration itself determined the Clean Power Plan could prevent up to 4,500 premature deaths each year by 2030.
EPA released an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking – a step usually taken when a federal agency is considering whether or not protections are needed and has little or no information available to inform its approach. The notice asks for public comment about what a replacement for the Clean Power Plan should be, even though EPA already held extensive public hearings and received more than four million comments while developing the Clean Power Plan, and even though Pruitt’s EPA is also now accepting public comment about his supposedly not-yet-final proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan.
The announcement says EPA is assessing “the possibility of replacing certain aspects of the CPP” – wording that defies repeated court rulings about EPA’s responsibilities under the law.
“The Clean Power Plan is firmly anchored in law and has a robust technical record,” said Carbonell. “The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled three times that EPA has the authority and responsibility to limit climate pollution, and as recently as October two D.C. Circuit judges reminded Administrator Pruitt of his ‘affirmative statutory obligation’ to protect Americans from climate pollution from power plants. Pruitt is treating his legal duties as optional – but the courts have made very clear they are not.”
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