- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for AG Healey Sues EPA for Dismantling the Clean Power Plan
Boston — Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey today joined 22 attorneys general and six local governments in suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its illegal and dangerous new rule that replaces the Clean Power Plan, the landmark nationwide regulations that limit carbon pollution from fossil fuel-burning power plants.
The Administration’s new plan, the Affordable Clean Energy Rule (ACE), aka the “Dirty Power Rule,” rolls back these limits and will result in significantly more air pollution and the increased risk of premature deaths and pollution-related disease.
“The coal lobbyists and climate deniers running the Trump Administration wrote every word of this illegal and dangerous rule,” AG Healey said. “We are suing to stand up for science, uphold federal law, and protect the environment and the health of our residents and future generations.”
The lawsuit, filed today in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, argues that the new rule ignores the science of climate change and the threat it poses to public health, the economy, and the environment. The coalition also contends that the rule ignores EPA’s clear responsibility under the federal Clean Air Act to require actual reductions of dangerous greenhouse gas emissions. The rule further obstructs the ability of states to benefit from clean and affordable energy by prolonging the lives of dirty, costly, and aging power plants that should be closed.
The Clean Power Plan was the culmination of a decade-long effort to partner with 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’s emission limits for existing plants would have eliminated as much carbon pollution as is emitted by more than 160 million cars a year—or 70 percent of the nation’s passenger cars.
President Barack Obama announced the Clean Power Plan in August 2015. After EPA finalized regulations to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants, a group of industry petitioners and allied states challenged the Clean Power Plan in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. In November 2015, a coalition of 25 states, including Massachusetts, cities and counties intervened in defense of the Clean Power Plan against the challenge.
In comparison, ACE fails to achieve virtually any reduction in dangerous pollution from power plants. In fact, emissions of one or more of three pollutants – carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and sulfur dioxide (SO2) – are projected to increase in 18 states in 2030 compared to no having no rule at all.
The new rule prohibits states from participating in regional market-based cap-and-trade programs like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) as a means for complying with the Clean Air Act and reducing emissions. RGGI has successfully helped its member states (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont) cut emissions from power plants in their region by more than 50 percent. RGGI has also created more than 14,500 new jobs and helped maintain reliable electricity service. Massachusetts itself has an $11 billion clean energy sector that employs more than 100,000 people—more than all of the coal jobs in the country.
The implications of the new rule’s failure to achieve virtually any reductions in power plant emissions are serious. The International Energy Agency estimates that climate change pollution from the U.S. power sector must be reduced by 74 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 for the U.S. to be on track to achieve the goal of limiting the worldwide temperature increase to less than 2 degrees Celsius. ACE falls woefully short of that target with a projected reduction of only 35 percent from 2005 levels with only one percent attributable to the rule and 34 percent to market factors.
AG Healey has been a vocal opponent of this new rule since it was first revealed as a proposed rule in August 2018. In her statement about the plan when it was first announced, AG Healey said the proposal “deserves to be tossed in a recycling bin,” and was written to “suffocate clean energy companies that are growing more competitive every day.”
The AG’s Office has long been an advocate of combatting climate change and expanding Massachusetts’ clean energy economy. 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 Massachusetts v. EPA. Together with other state AGs, AG Healey insisted on a robust public process for the proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan.
Joining AG Healey in filing today’s lawsuit are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia, as well as the chief legal officers of Boulder, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, and South Miami.