Lawsuits filed against Trump’s alt-facts Clean Power Plan (Only SCOTUS could save it)

  • Published on April 28th, 2020

Though it wasn’t hard to see that the Trump administration’s justifications for replacing the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan with its own deadly “Affordable Clean Energy” gift to the coal industry were faulty and deceptive way back in 2017, the actual wheels of the American legal system churn a bit more slowly.

coal smokestack vs clean power plan

By Climate Denier Roundup

But now, InsideEPA and Politico’s MorningEnergy report that challengers to the rule have filed their objections, apparently totaling over 500 pages. Here’s a very abbreviated overview:

The clean energy lobby and utilities point out the obvious: the best way to reduce emissions is to replace heavy polluters with cleaner options. This needs to be said because the Trump administration policy is for coal plants to just get a little tiny bit more efficient, instead of shutting down coal plants and replacing them with cleaner sources of energy. The brief from utilities describes the ACE law as “unlawful” and Trump’s EPA conclusions “erroneous”!

A couple of coal companies claim that because the EPA hasn’t made an endangerment finding for carbon dioxide emissions from coal plants, just from automobiles, it doesn’t have the authority to regulate them. This is, at best, a delay tactic. It doesn’t matter if a molecule of carbon dioxide comes from a smoke stack or a tailpipe, it’s going to trap heat just the same. So even if the bizarre legal challenge holds up (it won’t) the eventual finding would most certainly find coal plants a danger to public health anyway, as the one over a decade ago found for cars.

Corporate-funded front groups CEI and TPPF rounded up some small businesses to pose as a front for their comment complaining that even the Trump administration’s rule, which will reduce pollution by maybe 1%, is too much and the EPA can’t regulate carbon dioxide from power plants at all because power plants are already regulated under a different policy. EDF debunked this argument back in 2016 as being “akin to arguing that a restaurant that has complied with health standards can’t be subject to the fire code.”

Since these faulty arguments were all part of the initial opposition to the Clean Power Plan, there’s been plenty of time for green groups to rebut them in detail, and describe how Trump’s “EPA attempted to tie its own hands so that meaningful regulation of CO2 will be expensive, difficult, or even impossible.” If that’s not enough, the submission from a coalition of states suing the Trump EPA provides a much more comprehensive explanation of the “trivial” nature of its coal plant pollution reductions.

The EPA has until mid June to respond to these filings from groups challenging the ACE rule, and oral arguments are expected in the fall. Given that the opposition to climate action has spent years making the same false arguments, don’t expect any new ones to pop up between now and then.

But still, no matter how slim the odds may seem that the administration’s plan survives, there’s always gorSUCH a real chance that Trump has five ACEs up his sleeve.

(Crossposted with DailyKos.)

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