Replacement rule would have likely caused thousands more illnesses and deaths per year
OLYMPIA — A panel of federal judges, including a Trump appointee, today blocked the Trump Administration’s effort to repeal the Clean Power Plan and replace it with the so-called “Affordable Clean Energy” rule, which would not require significant carbon emission reductions. The ruling came in a challenge brought by Attorney General Bob Ferguson and a coalition of 22 states and seven local governments.
In its decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found the Trump Administration’s replacement rule was arbitrary and capricious, and both the replacement rule and the process the Environmental Protection Agency went through in order to adopt it “hinged on a fundamental misconstruction” of the Clean Air Act.
The decision marks Washington’s 39th legal victory against unlawful policies from the Trump Administration.
“The Trump Administration’s ‘Affordable Clean Energy’ rule was neither affordable nor clean,” Ferguson said. “This was a thinly veiled attempt to loosen restrictions on coal power plants, while doing nothing to address carbon pollution or climate change. I will continue to fight for clean air for all Washingtonians.”
In August 2019, Ferguson, in a coalition of 22 states and seven local governments, filed a petition for review challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan.
In 2015, the EPA adopted the Clean Power Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants. The Trump Administration’s replacement, the ACE rule, required states to set performance standards for coal power plants that do not require carbon emissions reductions.
The ACE rule did not promote clean energy. Instead, it incentivized the continued use of coal-fired power generation and does nothing to address the climate change harms caused by carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants. The EPA’s own analysis shows that the new rule would have resulted in increased carbon dioxide in some states, including Washington, over the next 15 years.
In Washington state, the rule could have caused an increase in carbon emissions, even more than if the EPA chose to repeal the Clean Power Plan and do nothing to replace it. Carbon dioxide is a powerful greenhouse gas. Washington has already seen adverse impacts of climate change, including rising sea levels, increased flooding, increased wildfires and ocean acidification.