Issue: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on October 16 that it plans to repeal the Clean Power Plan (CPP), which was developed by President Obama in 2015 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants and to speed up the shift from coal toward cleaner sources of energy.
Action: The EPA is required by law to allow the public to comment before repealing the CPP. Comments may be submitted to EPA about the proposed repeal until December 15, 2017. To submit comments, go to https://www.regulations.gov/searchResults?rpp=25&po=0&s=EPA-HQ-OAR-2017-0355&fp=true&ns=true Click on “Comment Now” and follow the online instructions.
The Trump administration falsely claims that environmental regulations are job killers and that reducing greenhouse gas emissions will damage the economy. They propose instead to dig more coal and drill for more oil. In fact, corporate America acknowledges economic momentum and new investment lie with cleaner sources of energy.
- Because the demand for coal is slowing, there is no reason to expand mining operations. According to a March study by Headwaters Economics, 142 coal-fired power plants have retired generators or closed entirely since 2009, and no new coal plants are being built. Coal-mining jobs are disappearing because of automation and a shift to cleaner, more efficient energy sources, so eliminating the CPP won’t bring back jobs in the coal industry.
- In addition to emitting greenhouse gas, coal plants release mercury, which damages children’s brains, and particulate matter, which causes life-shortening illnesses. EPA’s own analysis concluded that each year the CPP would prevent thousands of premature deaths, thousands of heart attacks, tens of thousands of asthma attacks, and hundreds of thousands of missed days of work and school by reducing particulate matter emissions.
- To continue reducing global warming and air pollution, the CPP should be implemented and should not be repealed unless and until the EPA has a replacement rule that effectively limits emissions of greenhouse gases from fossil fuel plants.
Last March President Trump ordered the elimination or delay of nearly every measure President Obama took to combat global warming including: rules aimed at increasing fuel efficiency of cars and trucks; rules aimed at limiting emissions of methane (a powerful greenhouse gas) from oil and gas wells; rules aimed at increasing the energy efficiency of appliances; and most important, the CPP. Fossil-fuel power plants account for roughly one-third of America’s global-warming emissions.
The EPA is required by the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. However, the October 16 notice states that EPA does not know if it will ever propose a rule replacing the CPP to regulate greenhouse gases from power plants. The CPP has not taken effect because it has been held up in the courts. But even in the absence of CPP implementation, many utilities across the country have opted to shift to natural gas, wind and solar, driven by cost concerns and state-level policies. To maintain that momentum, the CPP should be implemented, not repealed.
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