A coalition of 21 Democratic-led states resisted the Trump administration Tuesday over its decision to ease restrictions on coal-fired power plants, with California’s governor saying the president is attempting to rescue an obsolete industry.
In June, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency removed the agency’s Clean Power program and replaced it with a new rule which gives states more leeway in determining updates for high-value power plants.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, says the new rule violates the federal Clean Air Act since it doesn’t meaningfully replace power plants’ greenhouse gas emissions.
“They’re rolling things back to an age that no longer exists, trying to prop up the coal industry,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said at a news conference. He said the lawsuit wasn’t just about Trump however “our kids and grandkids” who would continue to be harmed by coal pollutants.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, whose nation produced the second most coal supporting Wyoming in 2017, predicted that the lawsuit will finally fail in the U.S. Supreme Court, which remained an earlier Obama administration effort in 2016 at the request of a rival 27-nation coalition.
He called the lawsuit a “big government ‘power grab'” and contended that the Democratic attorneys general “are dead wrong” in their interpretation of the Clean Air Act.
The U.S. EPA and White House issued similar statements saying they expect the new version to endure the court challenge, unlike the Obama-era rules.
“Unlike the previous administration, which crafted a far-reaching, burdensome, and unlawful rule that would have raised energy costs on hardworking American families, the Trump Administration’s Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule responsibly protects our clean air, reduces greenhouse gases, protects jobs, and keeps costs affordable,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said.
The lawsuit was filed by attorneys general in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia.
“The science is indisputable; our climate is changing. Ice caps are melting. Sea levels are rising. Weather is becoming more and more extreme,” New York Attorney General Letitia James, who’s leading the coalition, said in a statement. “Instead of staying the course with policies aimed at repairing the issue 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.”
The states were united by six local authorities: Boulder, Colorado; Chicago, Los Angeles, New York , Philadelphia and South Miami, Florida.
The EPA’s evaluation of the new rules predicts an additional 300 to 1,500 people will die annually by 2030 due to additional air pollution from the power grid. However, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler in June said Americans want “reliable energy that they can afford,” adding he expected more coal plans to start consequently.
“It’s more of a fossil fuel protection plan,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said.
It would replace the Clean Power Plan, which would necessitate cutting fossil fuel-burning plants. Becerra stated that was expected to remove as much climate change pollution as is emitted by over 160 million cars per year, the equivalent of 70 percentage of the country’s passenger cars, and has been projected to stop up to 3,600 further deaths yearly.
Newsom and James said countries’ existing efforts to decrease greenhouse gases have started to function while creating green jobs and vibrant economies.
From the Northeast, 10 states including New York formed the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative which has reduced power plant emissions by greater than 50 percent.
California’s energy grid used more energy from non-greenhouse gas sources such as solar and wind energy in 2017 than from power generated by fossil fuels for the first time since the California Air Resources Board started keeping track. The board also found that pollution from transport did not rise as quickly as in previous years, also reported that 2017 was the second consecutive year emissions dropped below the nation’s 2020 target.
This story has been corrected to state 21 countries have filed the lawsuit and also the District of Columbia.