The case for the Clean Power Plan

By Frank Convery, EDF Chief Economist

This regular column honors the memory of Robert W. Wilson, a longtime EDF supporter and champion of harnessing market forces to drive environmental progress.

Article published Winter 2018

‘“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”’ (Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll, 1872) Humpty Dumpty’s arrogance is alive and well in the Trump administration.

In making the case for repealing the Clean Power Plan, the Trump EPA cast aside accepted science by downplaying the benefits of reducing air pollution from power plants and suggested those benefits could be disregarded entirely. The Clean Power Plan is the most significant action the U.S. has taken to address climate change, with the aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector to 32% below 2005 levels. The plan’s emission reduction targets would phase in gradually over time and allow states and power companies flexibility in deciding how best to meet those targets.

The Clean Power Plan would save American lives, accelerate investments in clean energy and demonstrate global leadership on climate change, encouraging similar actions by other countries. In its desperation to justify repealing the Clean Power Plan, EPA inflated its costs and obscured its benefits. That EPA did so underscores this administration’s disregard for science and reasoned decision making.