D.C. Circuit Court Grants EPA’s Request to Hold Litigation over Clean Power Plan, Carbon Pollution Standards in Abeyance Pending Further Briefing

EPA Has a Clear and Urgent Duty under the Law to Protect Americans from Dangerous Climate Pollution

April 28, 2017
Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396, sstein@edf.org

(Washington, D.C. – April 28, 2017) The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit today granted a request by the Trump EPA to suspend litigation over two vital climate and public health protections - EPA’s carbon pollution standards for new, modified, and reconstructed power plants; and the Clean Power Plan, which limits carbon pollution from existing fossil fuel fired power plants. 

“We are in a race against time to address the climate crisis. The Supreme Court is clear that EPA has a duty to protect Americans from dangerous climate pollution under our nation’s clean air laws, and Environmental Defense Fund will take swift action to ensure that EPA carries out its responsibilities under the law.” said Vickie Patton, general counsel for Environmental Defense Fund, which is a party to both cases. “Climate progress and clean energy cannot be stopped by the litigation tactics of polluters.  In red, purple and blue states across our country Americans are working together to reduce health-harming pollution while creating jobs and shared prosperity.”

The carbon pollution standards for new, modified, and reconstructed power plants remain in full force and effect.

The Trump Administration filed requests for abeyance in the cases on March 28, just hours after the President signed an executive order attacking a broad array of climate and public health safeguards. That executive order provides for EPA review the Clean Power Plan and carbon pollution standards.

The federal courts – including three separate decisions of the Supreme Court – have made it abundantly clear that the Clean Air Act requires EPA to protect the public from dangerous pollutants that are disrupting our climate. The courts have repeatedly rejected the notion that carbon pollution is an issue that only Congress can address through new legislation. EPA has demonstrated that the Clean Air Act is an effective tool for addressing the threat of climate change — by putting in place common sense, highly cost-effective measures to reduce climate pollution from cars and trucks, power plants, oil and gas facilities, and other major pollution sources. These actions under the Clean Air Act are saving lives, strengthening the American economy, and yielding healthier air and a safer climate for our children. (Read more here)

When fully implemented, the Clean Power Plan will reduce carbon pollution from the power sector to 32 percent below 2005 levels. It also will save up to 3,600 lives, prevent up to 90,000 childhood asthma attacks, and avoid more than 300,000 missed school and work days each year. The Clean Power Plan will also provide states and power companies with broad flexibility to determine how best to meet these emission reduction goals, including through the deployment of customer-side efficiency investments that would save average American families almost $85 on annual energy bills.

While the litigation has worked its way through the courts, many power companies – even some of those challenging the Clean Power Plan – have been embracing cleaner, cheaper energy and making progress towards the plan’s goals. Thanks to rapid cost declines, these clean energy resources are now out-competing older, dirtier technologies in the market and supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country. Overall climate pollution from the power sector is already 25 percent below 2005 levels, which means the sector is already almost eighty percent of the way towards meeting the 2030 emissions reduction requirements of the Clean Power Plan. Efforts to dismantle the Clean Power Plan cannot halt all this progress, but any rollback will inject harmful and costly instability into power markets that creates business uncertainty and puts at risk affordable, achievable opportunities to cut carbon pollution.

Environmental Defense Fund is part of a broad and diverse coalition that vigorously defended these pollution standards – a coalition that includes eighteen states and sixty municipalities across the country; power companies that own and operate more than ten percent of the nation’s generating capacity; leading businesses like Apple, Google, Mars and IKEA; public health and environmental organizations; consumer and ratepayer advocates; faith organizations; and many others.

You can find a list of all the supporters and more information – including all legal documents in both cases – on EDF’s website.

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Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org), a leading international nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. Connect with us on EDF Voices, Twitter and Facebook.