SACRAMENTO, Nov. 1, 2018 – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has joined a multistate comment letter denouncing the Trump Administration’s proposal to dismantle the Clean Power Plan that sets national limits on carbon emissions from existing fossil-fuel power plants. In place of the current Clean Power Plan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing an illegal “Dirty Power Plan” that does little to nothing to address climate change pollution from power plants, weakens implementation requirements for limits on greenhouse gases and other types of air pollution, and carves out a loophole enabling fossil-fuel power plants to increase their emissions of harmful particulate matter.
“The clock is ticking, and yet the Trump Administration continues to foolishly turn its back on any progress we’ve made to safeguard future generations,” said Attorney General Becerra. “With this misguided plan that benefits corporate polluters over the well-being of the American public, Trump is callously selling out our children’s future and vowing to make America dirty again.”
The EPA’s proposal would eliminate the 2015 Clean Power Plan, a culmination of a decade-long effort by partnering states and cities to require mandatory cuts of carbon pollution from fossil fuel-burning power plants under the Clean Air Act. If left intact, the Clean Power Plan would eliminate as much climate changing pollution as is emitted annually by more than 160 million cars a year – or 70 percent of the nation’s passenger cars. The original 2015 Clean Power Plan would prevent 3,500 premature deaths annually according to EPA estimates. In its 2018 proposal, the EPA admits that its new Dirty Power Plan would cause over 1,630 additional premature deaths per year by 2030 – meaning that the new proposal is estimated to add approximately 5,130 premature deaths annually. In addition, the EPA concedes the plan would cause up to 15,000 new cases of respiratory problems, and nearly 190,000 missed days of school and work.
The EPA’s plan blatantly disregards pleas from the scientific community, businesses and world leaders to curb emissions. According to an October 2018 report, global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if emissions continue to increase at the current rate. Experts have warned that rolling back protections such as the Clean Power Plan would aggressively accelerate global warming with wide-ranging consequences, including temperature increases, ocean warming, sea level rise, increased hospitalizations and mortality, stress and die-off of animal and plant species, extreme weather events, famine, drought and forced human migration.
In the letter, the attorneys general demand that the EPA withdraw its illegal and foolish plan, and address a number of issues with the proposal. In the letter, the states assert that the EPA’s proposal:
- Fails to provide sufficient opportunity for public participation in the rulemaking process. EPA has held only one public hearing and provided only 61 days of public comment for what is essentially three separate proposed rule changes. This is not adequate time to respond to what is essentially three separate proposed rules.
- Exempts all existing gas plants, and some coal plants, from carbon dioxide emission limits. The EPA improperly changes its interpretation of what is considered the best system of emission reduction, mischaracterizes and ignores scientific evidence, and illegally fails to regulate pollution sources.
- Ignores emission reduction systems that have resulted in shifts to cleaner forms of electricity generation.
- Relies on an unlawful interpretation of the Clean Air Act, with little reasoning. The EPA reverses prior positions and legal interpretations, without justification, and fails to fulfill the agency’s legal duty to control harmful emissions under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act.
- Fails to consider to relevant evidence regarding additional proven systems of emission reductions and arbitrarily constrains its own analysis.
- Weakens rules that apply to power plant modifications that increase or add new emissions by creating a broad exemption to New Source Review permitting requirements, and thus, harming public health and the environment.
Attorney General Becerra will continue to vigorously defend the Clean Power Plan. In addition to today’s action, Attorney General Becerra has:
- On March 28, 2017, issued a statement preparing to defend Clean Power Plan.
- On January 9, 2018, led a coalition of 19 states and municipalities in submitting a 30-page comment letter to the EPA on due process violations, lack of fairness, and ethical lapses that arise from Administrator Scott Pruitt’s involvement in the proposed rulemaking to repeal the Clean Power Plan.
- On February 27, 2018, defended the Clean Power Plan in an EPA listening session in San Francisco.
- On April 26, 2018, led a coalition of 16 attorneys general and municipalities, submitted a supplemental comment letter to the EPA with additional evidence of due process violations, lack of fairness, and ethical lapses stemming from Administrator Scott Pruitt’s involvement in the EPA’s efforts to repeal Clean Power Plan.
- On August 21, 2018, issued a strong statement upon the announcement of the Trump Administration’s proposal to dismantle the Clean Power Plan, and committed to join the multistate coalition set to challenge a replacement rule if adopted.
- On October 26, 2018, published an article on the significance of the Clean Power Plan and the National Clean Car Standards.
A copy of the letter can be found here.