Montpelier, VT (STL.News) – Continuing efforts to oppose the federal government’s plan to repeal the Clean Power Plan, Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan announced that he joined with 21 other states, the District of Columbia, and six cities to file a lawsuit seeking review of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) replacement rule. In a petition for review filed at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the coalition asked that the court review the final version of the “Affordable Clean Energy Rule,” the EPA’s intended replacement for the Clean Power Plan.
“Today’s action is the latest step in our fight for the Clean Power Plan,” said Attorney General Donovan. “The climate crisis is real. It is already impacting Vermont with increasingly severe storms and rising temperatures that threaten our maple and snow sport industries. The Clean Power Plan plays a key role in protecting our environment. My office has been fighting for the Clean Power Plan – and our environment – for years and we’re not going to stop.”
The Clean Power Plan represented the first nationwide limit on climate change pollution from existing fossil fuel-burning power plants. It represents 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 rule for existing plants is expected to eliminate climate change pollution by more than 160 million cars a year – or 70 percent of the nation’s passenger cars.
The EPA’s intended replacement rule, the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule, would result in fewer emission reductions. For example, ACE covers only coal-fired plants, while the Clean Power Plan includes gas-fired plants. The ACE limits compliance measures and rules out reliance on other measures such as shifting generation to natural gas, wind and solar plants, which were permissible compliance mechanisms under the Clean Power Plan. One recent study concluded that under ACE greenhouse gas emissions will increase in 18 states and nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions will increase in as many as 20 states.
The Vermont Attorney General has been active in defending the Clean Power Plan for years and was a member of the coalitions that intervened in defense of the Clean Power Plan and the companion rule for new power plants against legal challenges in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2015. Most recently, the Attorney General joined a coalition of 27 states, cities, and counties to submit comments to the EPA in response to the Agency’s proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan. The coalition argued in these comments that the EPA was taking action without legal or factual support.