EDF, Allies Defend EPA’s Legal Authority to Regulate Climate Pollution

July 16, 2020
Contact: Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396, sstein@edf.org

(Washington, D.C. – July 16, 2020) Environmental Defense Fund and a dozen other health and environmental groups today told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that EPA has clear legal responsibility to regulate climate pollution from existing power plants – refuting legal challenges brought by the coal industry and its allies alleging that EPA has no authority to do so.

“The law is crystal clear that EPA has both the authority and the responsibility to address climate pollution, and it’s vital to the health and safety of all Americans that it does so,” said EDF lead attorney Tomás Carbonell. “We are asking the court to both uphold EPA’s authority and require that the agency use it effectively.”

The groups filed a brief with the D.C. Circuit today as part of a larger case arising from the Trump administration’s July 2019 decision repealing the Clean Power Plan, which established America’s only nationwide limit on carbon pollution from existing power plants. Trump’ s EPA replaced the Clean Power Plan with the ACE rule, which contains no meaningful limits on carbon pollution and would increase harmful soot and smog-forming pollution at nearly one in five of the nation’s power plants.

EDF and a broad coalition of states, cities, other health and environmental advocates, power companies, and clean energy trade associations sued EPA last fall over that rollback, arguing that the repeal of the Clean Power Plan rested on a fundamental misreading of the Clean Air Act and that the ACE rule is unlawful and unjustified.

At the same time, coal companies and their allies sued EPA for a completely different reason. They say EPA should not have finalized the ACE rule because the agency does not have the right to regulate carbon pollution from power plants at all.

EDF and its allies are parties to the case in defense of EPA’s authority to regulate carbon pollution. In their brief today, they state:

“Section 111 of the Clean Air Act requires EPA to regulate CO2 from existing power plants. Yet some Petitioners seek to block the agency from placing any limits on this dangerous pollution, even those found in the pitifully weak Affordable Clean Energy Rule (“ACE”). We support EPA’s rejection of these arguments.” (Brief, page 1)

The American Lung Association, American Public Health Association, Appalachian Mountain Club, Center for Biological Diversity, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Clean Air Council, Clean Air Task Force, Clean Wisconsin, Conservation Law Foundation, Environmental Law & Policy Center, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Natural Resources Defense Council and Sierra Club joined EDF on today’s brief.

Twenty-two states (New York, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the Commonwealths of Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Virginia), the District of Columbia and eight cities and counties (Boulder, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, South Miami, and the City and County of Denver) have also intervened in the case in support of EPA’s authority to regulate carbon pollution.

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