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.