Legal Fight over Power Plant Pollution Formally Shifts to ACE Rule

D.C. Circuit, in Expected Move, Dismisses Clean Power Plan Litigation

September 17, 2019
Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396,

(Washington, D.C. – September 17, 2019) The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit today dismissed the numerous legal challenges filed against the Clean Power Plan – an expected move after the Trump administration rolled back the Clean Power Plan and finalized its own weak replacement instead (the ACE rule).

“We are already challenging the Trump administration’s unlawful and harmful rollback of the Clean Power Plan in court, and we will continue to fight to enforce EPA’s legal responsibility to protect Americans from dangerous climate pollution,” said EDF’s Director of Regulatory Policy and Lead Attorney Tomás Carbonell. “The court’s decision today was expected, and does not reflect on the merits of the Clean Power Plan or these ongoing legal challenges. In fact, opponents have gone through extraordinary contortions to prevent the court from deciding the merits of the Clean Power Plan because the law and the facts supporting it are so compelling.”

The Clean Power Plan established America’s first and only nationwide limit on carbon pollution from existing power plants. It would reduce climate pollution from power plants to 36 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 and would reduce deadly soot and smog-forming pollution from power plants.

The ACE rule, which the Trump administration finalized in June, will provide no meaningful reduction in dangerous climate pollution, and may result in more harmful air pollution in many states than no rule at all. Analysis by EDF shows that 16 states could see an increase in climate pollution under ACE, and independent experts say ACE could increase the pollution that leads to soot and smog in as many as 14 states plus the District of Columbia, relative to “business as usual” without the rule.

A broad and diverse coalition is challenging the ACE rule in the D.C. Circuit, including EDF and twelve other public health and environmental organizations, twenty-three states and eight cities, and nine power companies.Legal challenges to the Clean Power Plan have been pending in the D.C. Circuit since 2015. Since 2017, the Trump administration has repeatedly urged the D.C. Circuit not to decide the case while it worked on a rule to repeal and replace the Clean Power Plan. In the meantime, evidence about the dangers of the climate change crisis has continued to mount, and states and power companies across the country have moved ahead toward reducing climate pollution from power plants – in some cases by much more than the Clean Power Plan called for.

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