Statement from AG Healey on Decision by DC Circuit Court of Appeals to Suspend the Clean Power Plan Lawsuit
BOSTON – Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey today issued the following statement in response to a decision by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to suspend a pending lawsuit challenging the Clean Power Plan.
“Federal law requires the EPA to protect this country from carbon pollution that threatens our residents, our economy, and our climate. After advocating for years to implement this vital rule, Massachusetts and other states will continue to fight President Trump's plan to dismantle our climate protections and abandon our historic commitments in the Paris Agreement. We are in active discussions about how best to protect the Clean Power Plan.”
Today’s ruling follows an executive order signed by President Trump on March 28, which the administration described as paving the way to eliminate the Clean Power Plan rule. Following the executive order, AG Healey joined a coalition of 23 states, cities and towns in pledging to aggressively oppose the order in court.
In December 2016, Massachusetts was part of a coalition of 19 states and local governments that sent a letter to then President-elect Trump urging him to continue the federal government’s defense of the Clean Power Plan. The letter asked the president-elect to reject the “misguided advice” of a group of states led by West Virginia that the Clean Power Plan be discarded.
President Barack Obama announced the Clean Power Plan in August 2015. After final regulations to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions from existing power plants were issued by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a group of state and industry petitioners challenged the Clean Power Plan in federal court. In November 2015, a coalition of 25 states, cities and counties intervened in defense of the Clean Power Plan against the challenge in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The court heard oral arguments in late September.
The Clean Power Plan is the culmination of a decade-long effort by partnering states and cities to require mandatory cuts in the emissions of climate change pollution from fossil fuel-burning power plants under the Clean Air Act. The Clean Power Plan, along with the companion rule applicable to new, modified, and reconstructed power plants, will control these emissions by setting limits on the amount of climate change pollution that power plants can emit. The rule for existing plants is expected to eliminate as much climate change pollution as is emitted by more than 160 million cars a year – or 70 percent of the nation’s passenger cars.
EPA adopted the Clean Power Plan through a multi-year stakeholder process that drew heavily on the experience of states and utilities in reducing power plant greenhouse gas emissions. Massachusetts has already taken a leading role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by moving forward with its own programs, such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the Global Warming Solutions Act, energy efficiency programs, and standards to promote greater reliance on renewable energy. Massachusetts and its partners recognize that, on such a crucial issue that is already costing taxpayers billions of dollars in storm response and other costs, state action alone will not be enough and strong federal actions like the Clean Power Plan are needed.
For years, the Massachusetts AG’s Office has been a leader in pursuing federal regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, including leading a coalition of states, in coordination with numerous environmental groups, in the landmark Supreme Court case of Massachusetts v. EPA.