Attorney General Shapiro Takes Action Against EPA’s Unlawful Proposed Replacement for Clean Power Plan

November 1, 2018 | Topic: Peoples AG

EPA’s Own Analysis Predicts that Proposed Rule Change Could Result in Additional 60 Million Tons of Climate Change Pollution and Over 1,600 Premature Deaths Per Year By 2030 

HARRISBURG —  Attorney General Josh Shapiro, joined by a coalition of 26 states, counties, and cities, today called on the Trump Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to abandon its proposed replacement to the Clean Power Plan. The Clean Power Plan placed the first nationwide limits on greenhouse gas pollution from existing fossil-fueled power plants – one of the largest sources of climate change pollution.   In extensive comments filed with EPA, the coalition demonstrates that the proposed replacement rule is replete with factual inaccuracies, analytical errors, and legal flaws and concludes accordingly that the rule – if adopted – would be unlawful.

“The EPA’s proposed rule change is in clear violation of the Clean Air Act, and I’m fighting to uphold the law and protect Pennsylvanians’ constitutional right to clean air and pure water,” said Attorney General Shapiro. “In Pennsylvania alone, more than 1.7 million adults and 235,000 children have asthma symptoms, and this will exacerbate the problem. The EPA’s rule is bad for public health and our environment.”

In the comments, Attorney General Shapiro and the coalition stress the overwhelming scientific evidence of human-induced climate change and its increasing impacts, and the corresponding need for EPA to perform its duty under the Clean Air Act to set nationwide limits on power plant emissions of climate change pollution.  The coalition argues that any contention by the EPA that the federal Clean Air Act requires it to discard the Clean Power Plan in favor of this proposal reflects an unlawful interpretation of the Act.  Further, the coalition argues that if EPA’s position is that it simply prefers its replacement rule as a matter of policy, such a position would be indefensible in light of the serious harm EPA acknowledges the proposed rule would cause to public health and the environment.

According to EPA’s own analysis, the replacement proposal could actually increase emissions of climate change pollution and other harmful pollutants from power plants.  EPA estimates that up to 61 million more tons of carbon dioxide would be emitted from the power sector under the proposed rule in 2030, as compared to the Clean Power Plan. EPA further acknowledges that the proposed replacement rule, as compared to the Clean Power Plan, would cause power plants to emit up to 39,000 more tons of nitrogen oxides and 53,000 more tons of sulfur dioxide in 2030.  According to EPA’s own data, more than 7 million Pennsylvanians are currently breathing harmful air.

The additional air pollution EPA predicts will occur under its proposed replacement rule will mean that hundreds or thousands more people will die prematurely, suffer asthma attacks, and miss school and work. According to an EPA analysis, the replacement rule would result in up to an additional 1,630 premature deaths, 120,000 asthma attacks, 140,000 missed school days, and 48,000 lost work days in 2030, compared to under the Clean Power Plan.  The increases in deaths and illnesses that EPA itself predicts will occur as a result of its replacement rule will fall disproportionately on “environmental justice communities,” low-income communities and communities of color already overburdened by pollution.

As the comments also discuss, EPA has completely turned its back on the successful experience of many states, such as Pennsylvania, to significantly reduce carbon pollution from power plants while growing their economies and maintaining reliability of the electrical grid.

The Clean Power Plan is the culmination of a decade-long effort by partnering states and cities to require mandatory cuts in the emissions of climate change pollution from fossil fuel-burning power plants under the Clean Air Act. The Clean Power Plan, along with the companion rule applicable to new, modified, and reconstructed power plants, would control these emissions by setting limits on the amount of climate change pollution that power plants can emit. The Clean Power Plan would eliminate as much climate change pollution as is emitted by more than 160 million cars a year – or 70 percent of the nation’s passenger cars.

The coalition of states, counties, and cities defending the Clean Power Plan and filing comments are the Attorneys General of New York, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota (by and through its Minnesota Pollution Control Agency), New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia, and the cities of Boulder (CO), Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, and South Miami (FL), and Broward County (FL).

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