EPA dismantles historic Clean Power Plan

Despite a year of extreme storms, dire climate reports, and deadly heat waves, the Trump administration is gutting one of our most important tools for fighting the climate crisis: the Clean Power Plan. Dirty power plants account for more than one-third of the United States’ total carbon footprint, and the Obama-era law was the first to tackle existing plants’ carbon pollution—preventing thousands of deaths each year and slowing the pace of global warming. Alongside other protections, like clean car and fuel-economy standards, the Clean Power Plan (CPP) is one of our best shots at meeting our Paris Agreement goals and averting the worst-case climate projections. The CPP would’ve forced the closing of many of the country’s old (and dirtiest) coal-fired power plants, required strict pollution-controlling technology on any new ones, and cut the electricity sector’s overall emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. Instead of cynically scrapping it, the Trump administration should have acted on new data and strengthened the existing law, saving thousands more lives and billions in climate and health benefits.

But the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t seem to care. Its final replacement, the deceivingly named Affordable Clean Energy rule, reinterprets the CPP to give polluters more reign. It merely asks power plants for modest efficiency measures and does away with state-specific emissions limits, which required state governments to strategize locally—using tactics like storing carbon underground and switching to renewables—to bring pollution down. But the ACE may not survive long: A wave of organizations—including NRDC—are aiming to fight in court to keep the plan intact.


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