Trump wants to end the Clean Power Plan – but we can push back

Martha Roberts

President Trump took another swipe at protections for American communities today by attacking the Clean Power Plan – America’s first-ever nationwide standards to reduce dangerous carbon pollution from power plants.

His action puts at risk the health and welfare of families across America, threatening 3,600 more deaths and 90,000 asthma attacks annually, while creating uncertainty for businesses and putting in question our international climate commitments.

And, yet, the demise of the Clean Power Plan is anything but certain. Trump’s executive order targeting this safeguard has the legal effect of a loud and dangerous tweet.

The EPA is required by law to provide transparent and inclusive public notice and input before making any changes. The courts will set aside any final result that is based on inadequate information or public input, or that disregards EPA’s duty under the law.

Nor will Americans sit by quietly as the Trump administration revokes a common-sense policy protecting us from the worst risks from climate change.

To understand what comes next and how we can forcefully push back, here’s a look at what Trump’s ill-advised order means for this vital climate safeguard.

The Clean Power Plan can’t be dismantled by fiat

Any action to revoke the Clean Power Plan must be rigorous and transparent.

The EPA’s public outreach when developing the Clean Power Plan was, in fact, the agency’s most inclusive ever. The agency conducted months of stakeholder and public listening sessions before it issued an initial proposal. The EPA then received and considered more than 4 million public comments and held hundreds of more meetings around the country to refine the final plan.

Americans can – and must – make our voices heard during the upcoming public comment process, just like we did back then. As we have in the past, we can shape the history of our nation.

Scott Pruitt’s actions would be set aside by the court if they ignore, or are contrary to, the Clean Air Act.

And even if the administration completes a new rule to replace the Clean Power Plan, it would be subject to thorough judicial review in federal court to assure that the EPA has properly followed the law.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s actions would be set aside by the court if they ignore, or are contrary to, the Clean Air Act – or if they don’t rest on sound technical and policy foundations. Similarly, if he attempts to short-circuit required stakeholder engagement, the replacement rule would be overturned.

That is also true if Pruitt ignores the EPA’s legal responsibility to protect the public from dangerous climate pollution. If he were to try, we’ll see him in court.

The Supreme Court has affirmed the EPA’s responsibility to protect public health from greenhouse gas pollution under the Clean Air Act three times since 2007. That includes a finding that the law “speaks directly” to carbon pollution [PDF] from existing power plants under the very provision that forms the basis of the Clean Power Plan.

Americans stand together for clean air

There is already a robust coalition of climate and clean air supporters that will forcefully oppose any attempt to weaken the Clean Power Plan. A broad and diverse coalition [PDF] of 18 states, 60 municipalities, iconic businesses such as Apple and Google, faith organizations, the Consumers Union, Republican former EPA administrators and other leaders have risen in defense of the plan in court.

Limits on carbon pollution from coal plants also enjoy support from 69 percent of Americans, including a majority in every congressional district across the country.

These supporters know that the Clean Power Plan will help our country achieve vital reductions in dangerous carbon pollution, save thousands of lives, and support energy efficiency investments that save us money.

Just this month, more than 1,000 companies and investors called on the Trump administration to continue low-carbon policies, noting that “failure to build a low-carbon economy puts American prosperity at risk.”

Trump’s action is a clear and present danger

States and companies are pressing ahead to reduce carbon pollution, driven in part by deep cost declines for low-carbon power sources such as wind and solar.

Efforts to dismantle the Clean Power Plan can’t halt all this progress. But Trump’s executive order injects harmful and costly instability into power markets that creates business uncertainty and puts at risk affordable, achievable initiatives to cut carbon pollution.

The Clean Power Plan has a key role in helping companies and states plan investments in a way that maximizes benefits for consumers and facilitates optimal use of available power generation resources, while offering states maximum flexibility to craft a path forward.

Any disruption in its implementation will result in missed opportunities to achieve long-overdue and readily available pollution reductions that will save lives and prevent disease. This is why we must fight back.

Together with the broad coalition supporting the Clean Power Plan, and millions of Americans who want strong action, we stand ready to defend our right to clean air and a stable climate for all of us. We hope you’ll be there, too.

Comments

It is essential l to preserve the Clean Power Plan, to slow the effects of climate change, which is real, and to preserve clean air in the future.

Cynthia Lanchester
March 28, 2017 at 8:47 pm

Why do you insinuate, from photos you publish, that power plant emissions are not mostly water vapor? That's what comes from cooling towers!

The US utility industry is squeaky clean compared to China and many others. Protest the Chi-coms, it is one atmosphere, you know.....

Bob
March 29, 2017 at 11:06 am

Water vapor is a greenhouse gas itself and does contribute to climate disruption.

The United States does have more legal environmental protections than other governments do, such as China or India, but that does not mean we should not strive to continue improving ourselves before pointing at others. I agree that China (and other nations) should work to curb their emissions as well, but I would hope that pressure would come mainly from international bodies, and meanwhile those nations that are able would lead by example.

Meanwhile, China is still surging ahead in its solar panel production, so perhaps we could learn from China as well!

Ruth
March 30, 2017 at 2:19 pm

In reply to by Bob

Surging? Prove that with verifiable info.

Kevin
March 31, 2017 at 7:34 pm

In reply to by Ruth

When it come to emissions from generation plants and refineries it is what you can’t see that is what can kill you. like sulfur dioxide and mercury.

Dave
January 21, 2018 at 12:24 pm

In reply to by Bob

Please strengthen and add more protections to the Clean Air Act. Do not destroy our planet just to put money in the pockets of a few people. We need more renewable, non-polluting power. Do not take a giant step backwards.

Cher Clapper
March 29, 2017 at 11:37 am

We absolutely must continue with the Clean Power Plan and do everything possible to avert a climate change catastrophe. In addition businesses, corporations, companies of all descriptions and we, the people, must do everything in our power to continue progressing toward cleaner energy and less carbon dioxide and methane emissions. Just because Trump has rolled back the regulations does not mean we have to go back. Please do the right thing for the people, the country and the planet and protect the Clean Power plan.

Mary Swihart
March 29, 2017 at 11:49 am

We cannot stand by and let Trump, the Republicans, and the coal and oil industry destroy our environment and the planet. We have to fight this by all means available.

Laura Kahn
March 29, 2017 at 4:17 pm

We NEED to Fight Back!!!

Roberto Garcia
March 29, 2017 at 4:20 pm

When you were saying American, you did not consider the fact that all the air in the world is connected. There is no such thing as American air or European air, and when American people release more carbon into the atmosphere it is going to affect the whole world. So don't keep the fight to yourselves. Let the world join your fight.

Trump has no right to make my kids future unpleasant. This is a fight for the Earth, not just for America.

I hope you can understand what I'm trying to say: Making your voices louder and take as much help as you need. The whole world is here to help.

Akoijam Machanglen
March 30, 2017 at 9:37 am

Great work on dialing back this Ludacris piece of job killing, wealth hijacking piece of garbage know as the Clean Power Plan. We greatly appreciate your efforts to roll back radical environmentalism! God Speed Mr. Pruitt!!

Kevin Dechant
March 30, 2017 at 9:39 am

I would like to know what you are doing to block the governments bills that will destroy our planet, and what my group can do to help.

Dana Aberman
March 30, 2017 at 12:17 pm

Hi Dana! Please email me your group's name and I'll see if I can get you some information. Thanks!

Karin (Voices blog editor) krives@edf.org

Karin Rives
March 31, 2017 at 1:17 pm

In reply to by Dana Aberman

I guess I want to learn, but I see the daily artic ice maps and they are unchanged from 2000 to 2016. Polar bear populations have increased by 30% since 2005. Greenhouse gases make up 3% of the entire atmosphere. Of that 3%, 2.8%of that gas is Co2, and of that 2.8% which is C02, 3% is man made. That is .0000252% of the atmosphere. While is true that of the .0000252% of man made Co2 that is in the atmosphere, 60% of man made Co2 comes from energy production. Power plants, vehicles, but a large portion comes from agriculture production.

C02 in the atmosphere is at best a mild absorber of heat. Much less than that of water vapor. To consider C02 a pollutant is like saying 1 man urinating in the ocean will kill all the fish. Bad science, bad science indeed. If you want to reduce real criteria pollutants like mercury, nitrous oxide, sulfur dioxide, then you have my attention, but you're a fool if you believe regulating carbon dioxide is going to accomplish anything.

Kevin Dechant
March 31, 2017 at 1:30 pm

Speaking of science, Kevin, can you please cite the sources for your data?

Karin Rives
April 3, 2017 at 10:03 am

In reply to by Kevin Dechant

EPALAB Geiger Nuclear Radiation Detector For iOS iPhone Android Phone Goes on Sale in United States

NEW YORK - March 27, 2017 -- As EPALAB Geiger Nuclear Radiation Detector For iOS iPhone Android Phone Goes on Sale in the United States , FeDlan, has released the findings of a recent EPA® survey showing over 63% of the streams in coalfields have been “impaired” by heavy metals and toxic chemicals such as calcium, magnesium, total dissolved solids, and manganese. Coal wastes also produce sulfate, which is harmful to plants and other organisms and can lead to eutrophication of streams and water bodies. Some West Virginia streams have shown 30 to 40 fold increases in sulfate. Selenium, a chemical that is toxic to humans and wildlife has been found downstream from mines at over 15 times the toxic threshold.

In addition, mined areas produce more polluted runoff during storms because the soil has been compacted by heavy machinery and there is little vegetation to soak up the water. Research by Dr. Margaret Palmer, director of the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory 
at the University of Maryland, shows that the cumulative effect of these stressors is the biological impairment of streams and their communities.

Before coal goes to market, it is usually washed to separate it from the rocks and soil and reduce its sulfur content. The process produces enormous amounts of liquid waste, called sludge or slurry, which is held in impoundments often built onsite.

These slurry ponds, usually hidden from public view, can store billions of gallons of waste contaminated with the carcinogenic chemicals used in coal processing and toxic heavy metals found in coal such as arsenic, mercury, chromium, cadmium, boron, selenium and nickel. The impoundment dams can and do fail. In 1972, a dam failure in Buffalo Creek, W. VA resulted in the death of 125 people. A Martin County, KY impoundment owned by Massey Energy broke in 2000, releasing 306 million gallons of slurry, and contaminating over 75 miles of stream from Kentucky to West Virginia. All aquatic creatures died, property was damaged, homes were rendered uninhabitable, and the drinking water of ten counties was tainted. The pollution flowed from Coldwater Creek to Big Sandy River and eventually to the Ohio River.

The radiation hazard from air and water borne emissions from coal and nuclear radiation are forcing families to take matters into their own hands by opting for Geiger Counters. Just like we saw with potassium iodide during the Japanese nuclear fallout, everyone seems to want to be as prepared as possible for whatever may come.

Once news hit that President Trump has make it legal to dump Coal mining waste into streams and rivers and undo Obama plan to curb global warming, geiger counters began flying off the shelves along the west and East coast.

In true survivalist form, you can take matters into your own hands (especially if you live in Central Appalachia) and get your own geiger counter to monitor the radiation in and around your home. These are vital to have in a radiation fallout crisis because otherwise, you have no way of protecting your family from radiation fallout. It can also help you avoid contaminated food or water, or “hot spots” of radiation.

While most of the Geiger product in this category are expensive and selling out so fast right now, EPALAB Geiger Nuclear Radiation Detector For iOS iPhone Android Phone is selling for just $28.90.

So here is the link to the entire FeDlan search page for: geiger counters. www.fedlan.com

Tony Bruce
April 3, 2017 at 7:47 am

Well its really not hard to find any of the information I spoke of. The Polar bear census date just came out about two weeks ago and although I don't study polar bears i'm assuming this group does. They said with little doubt that in the 19 regions they monitor, that the population has increased from about 24,000 to over 31,000. Ok that's not exactly 30% it is only 29.2%. The daily sea ice images can be viewed at the Daily Cryosphere website where you can look at Ice Images at daily intervals dating at least as far back as 2000. If you compare them to their corresponding dates year to year you will notice little if any changing. Of course nothing remains totally the same, you will notice little if any difference. If you look at the past 16 years there is almost no change. I think former vice president Al Gore stated that by 2014 there could be little if any ice left. Not quite the result he had concluded. As for the basic composition of the atmosphere its not really debated science. Any basic science site give the same result. 3% of the atmosphere is greenhouse gases, 3% of greenhouse gas is CO2, and roughly 3% of Co2 comes from man made sources. That is irrefutable. While CO2 concentrations have mildly risen to about 400 PPM, CO2 throughout our existence has fluctuated wildly with some of the highest concentrations being in time periods devoid of civilized man. Empirical evidence (observed data- real science) suggests there has been no warming in about 18 years. Warming has only been predicted through various "modeling" techniques that have been disproven through empirical data. I'm not a science denier, i'm actually listening to the science, the real data and not hypothesis. I actually applaud environmental efforts, but the stop a problem that does not exist with the types of funding they want is Ludacris. Lets fix actual problems where we can have an impact. Clean water, common diseases that kill thousands in undeveloped countries, famine, real pollutants (i.e. mercury, toluene, benzene, Sulphur dioxide, nitrous dioxide, etc.) and wars. I would just urge groups like yours that do have a noble cause to redirect your efforts towards real problems. Then you will have my undying support.

Kevin Dechant
April 3, 2017 at 11:16 am

Kevin,

EDF recognizes that substantial contradictory information available online suggests that climate change data are more controversial than the actual science shows suggests. We rely on peer-reviewed scientific literature and recognized national and international expert bodies for our data, as well as the scientific work that we independently conduct.

For the 2017 data on polar bear status, see the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group’s website. Their assessment that the bear remains in vulnerable status is based on loss of sea ice, documented by, again, peer-reviewed, scientific studies such as Regehr et al from 2016.

For information on CO2 concentrations over nearly the past million years, see data and figures on The Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center website. This provides details on two of many independent peer-reviewed studies that show that CO2 levels throughout the entire history of human civilization have never been as high as they are now. While there are many natural sources of CO2 into the atmosphere, these are balanced by natural CO2 removal from the atmosphere. The concern today is that human activities emit extra CO2 into the atmosphere without any balancing removal mechanism; therefore the CO2 is building up and trapping more heat.

For empirical evidence of surface air temperature warming, please see independent observational datasets by NASA, by Climate Research Unit. The top 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 2000 with the exception of 1998, which was a strong El Nino year that added to global warming.

We do agree, however, that climate change is not the only threat facing our health and environment. This is why EDF is actively working on the other type of environmental problems you mention, such as protection from toxic chemicals and fighting to ensure that the EPA’s vital role in protecting our environment is maintained. We appreciate your concern about these issues.

Ilissa Ocko
EDF Climate Scientist

Ilissa Ocko
April 5, 2017 at 5:46 pm

This is all you say about the legal status of the CPP. “And, yet, the demise of the Clean Power Plan is anything but certain.Trump’s executive order targeting this safeguard has the legal effect of a loud and dangerous tweet.”

You failed to mention that the original regulation was challenged in court by 27 states and the Supreme Court granted a stay while the rule is reviewed by the United States Court of appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The challenge was on constitutional grounds that the EPA had exceeded its authority in the regulations. So the legal implications are much more significant that you represent. 

Dick Kahle
January 21, 2018 at 9:30 pm

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