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Lawsuit Takes on Trump’s Dirty Power Plan

WASHINGTON - Ten environmental groups sued Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency today to overturn the administration’s Dirty Power Plan and reinstate the Obama-era Clean Power Plan.

Today’s lawsuit, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, argues that the EPA failed its legal obligation under the Clean Air Act when it repealed and replaced the Clean Power Plan.

“Trump’s Dirty Power Plan will make people sick and dig us even deeper into the climate crisis,” said Clare Lakewood, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Its only purpose is to make fossil fuel CEOs richer, no matter how deadly and dangerous that is for the rest of us.”

Fossil fuel power plants are the largest stationary source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. The Clean Power Plan, finalized by the Obama administration in 2015, imposed the first-ever nationwide limits on carbon pollution from such plants.

The Trump administration’s replacement rule redefines the “best system of emissions reduction” of greenhouse gases from power plants as heat-rate improvements at coal-fired power plants. Heat-rate improvements result in increased generation, meaning the overall emissions reduction is smaller, and can even increase overall pollution. The rule does not set a specific emission limit, instead leaving it to states to decide what reduction each coal-fired power plant might achieve, and it fails to regulate gas-fired power plants at all.


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Projections indicate the Trump rule will result in increases in carbon dioxide emissions in 18 states and D.C. in 2030, compared to having no rule in place at all. The Fourth National Climate Assessment, authored by the Trump administration’s own scientists, reported that “immediate and substantial” cuts to greenhouse gas pollution are needed to stem the worsening health and economic harms of the climate crisis.

Trump’s rule is also predicted to result in increased sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions in many states in 2030 compared to having no rule in place. Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide are pollutants that cause asthma and other health problems.

The EPA has previously predicted the rule will result in as many as 1,400 premature deaths per year.

“The new rule mangles both the law and the science in a desperate attempt to prop up the coal industry,” Lakewood said. “The EPA really has no leg to stand on in defending this reckless rule, so we look forward to a victory in court.”


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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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