Public Health, Environmental Organizations Make Case for D.C. Circuit Court to Uphold the Clean Power Plan

Groups File Briefs in Support of Historic Clean Air Measure

March 29, 2016
Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396,

(Washington, D.C. – March 29, 2016) A broad coalition of environmental and health organizations, including EDF, delivered a forceful and comprehensive argument in support of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit today.

The Clean Power Plan establishes the first national limits on carbon pollution from fossil-fuel fired power plants, our nation’s single largest source of such pollution. The brief filed by the coalition today adds to EPA’s own strong defense, which was filed yesterday.   

“Carbon pollution is destabilizing our climate and threatening our health, security, and economic well-being, and fossil fuel-fired power plants are the largest source of that pollution in America,” said Tomás Carbonell, EDF’s Director of Regulatory Policy and Senior Attorney. “The Clean Power Plan is the most important step our nation has taken to place reasonable limits on climate pollution and leave a healthier and safer climate for our children. Our brief reaffirms that the Clean Power Plan faithfully adheres to the Clean Air Act and is based on a rigorous technical record — and shows that the legal attacks on these vital standards are completely without merit.”

In their brief, the environmental and health organizations underscore Supreme Court precedent finding that the Clean Air Act “speaks directly” to the carbon pollution from existing power plants, and explain that EPA’s Clean Power Plan is anchored in law and fact, writing: 

“The [Clean Power Plan] is highly cost-effective, well-suited to the regulated industry, and accommodating of industry and state requests for compliance flexibility … In developing the Rule, EPA carried out its core Clean Air Act role to limit dangerous air pollution, using cost-effective tools employed in prior power sector regulations and relying on emissions-reducing measures already widely used in the industry.” (Brief, pages 1 and 5)

The brief also addresses opponents’ spurious arguments that EPA should not have created the Clean Power Plan under section 111d of the Clean Air Act because it already regulates other types of pollutants under a different section of the same law: 

“This bizarre proposition is like exempting restaurants from food handling requirements because they are subject to the fire code. The Clean Air Act does not work that way. (Brief, page 20-21)

“The Clean Power Plan’s cost-effective, flexible approach is consistent with the law and consistent with market trends that are already driving dramatic reductions in carbon pollution from the power sector,” said EDF Attorney Martha Roberts. “We are confident the court will agree that the Clean Power Plan is an appropriate exercise of EPA’s duty under the Clean Air Act to protect our communities from climate change.” 

EDF was joined on today’s brief by Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, Earthjustice, the Clean Air Task Force, the Center for Biological Diversity, the American Lung Association, the Clean Air Council, Clean Wisconsin, the Conservation Law Foundation, the Ohio Environmental Council, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, Coal River Mountain Watch, the Kanawha Forest Coalition, the Mon Valley Clean Air Coalition and Keepers of the Mountains Foundation.

Other parties supporting EPA – a coalition of 18 States and seven cities and counties (including Chicago, Philadelphia, New York City, and South Miami- Broward County); a large group of power companies; and three advanced energy trade associations representing more than 3,000 companies and organizations in the advanced energy sector, a $200 billion industry — also submitted their briefs in defense of the Clean Power Plan today. 

On Friday, an extensive group of Clean Power Plan supporters will file amicus, or “friend of the court,” briefs.

Oral arguments will take place on June 2 before a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court. 

You can find more about the Clean Power Plan, including all legal briefs in the case, on EDF’s website. 

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