Yesterday the DC Circuit Court of Appeals decided to reject the Trump Administration’s inadequate greenhouse gas power plant rule that sought to repeal the Clean Power Plan. In doing so the court rejected the Trump-era EPA’s false claim that the Clean Power Plan did not comply with the Clean Air Act. AMC, represented by the Clean Air Task Force, was part of a group of challengers to the rule and celebrate this decision as a turning point for environmental rollbacks.
The misleadingly-named Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule would have allowed existing coal plants to limp along into the future by making minor efficiency investments but running longer hours, and potentially increasing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions as a result. Coal plants are also sources of unhealthy and toxic air pollution such as ozone, particulates, and mercury.
With a change in Administration, the opportunity to revisit effective ways to reduce greenhouse gases from existing power plants under the Clean Air Act is now before us. The delays in addressing these harmful emissions must end. The Biden EPA must and can act quickly using the Clean Air Act, which has proven successful in tackling acid rain. Trump’s EPA damaged and delayed actions to address climate change, including trying to extend the timeline for compliance with this failed power plant rule. In their decision the court found that EPA should not ignore the impact of any delays on climate change, faulting EPA for failing to consider climate change and the emissions impacts from such an extension.
AMC looks forward to working on addressing climate change under the new Administration and is pleased that President Biden is committing to immediate actions such as rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement. Setting the stage for swift action, the President has issued an Executive Order “Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis,” that will review 48 EPA actions, including environmental rollbacks, under Trump. Shifting the lens to science-based policies and environmental protection to drive agency action, rather than a focus on industry objectives, is a much-needed change. Examples of EPA policies to be reexamined include revisiting automobile emission standards, censoring science, oil and gas emission standards, and air quality standards for ozone and fine particulates.