The Trump administration’s decision to halt the Clean Power Plan represents a fundamental abandonment of government’s most basic responsibility: to protect the public health and welfare.
The Clean Power Plan (CPP) is a cornerstone of the Obama administration’s commitment to controlling global climate change, and central to the US ability to meet its commitment under the Paris climate agreement.
The Plan would limit CO2 emissions from existing fossil-fuel fired electric generating units (power plants). Besides its effect on climate change, the Clean Power Plan would have saved thousands of lives by limiting other pollutants – like sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, mercury, and soot.
With his decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has failed in his most fundamental duty. The mission of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is to “protect human health and the environment” … “based on the best available scientific information.”
The Clean Power Plan has a strong legal basis: the finding by the Supreme Court in Massachusetts v. EPA (2007) that greenhouse gases are pollutants under the Clean Air Act and must be regulated by EPA if they are found to be “a clear and present danger to the public health and welfare.” This was determined by the EPA’s “endangerment funding,” which has been upheld in federal court.
The Plan enjoys strong public support: a recent Yale University poll found that 69% of Americans nationwide, and majorities in every state, support setting strict CO2 limits on existing coal power plants.
Killing the Clean Power Plan will not restore coal mining jobs. Because of litigation, the Plan was never put in place and so cannot have cost any jobs. Coal mining jobs disappeared, and will continue to disappear, because of market forces. A plan similar to the Clean Power Plan was implemented in 2008 in the northeastern states, and has been shown to have positive economic and health effects, including job creation.
We need reality-based policies that serve the interests of the American people, not the special interests of the fossil fuel industry. Recent hurricanes and wildfires remind us that climate change is a real and present danger. By willfully ignoring this, the Trump administration is putting its own political interests above the safety of the public.
– WHRC President Philip B. Duffy