The following is a press release from the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office.
BOSTON – Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey joined a coalition of 26 states, counties, and cities in calling on the Trump Administration to abandon its illegal and dangerous proposed rule to replace the Clean Power Plan. While challenging the rollback, the group is fighting to implement and strengthen the existing federal rules that limit pollution from coal, oil, and gas-fueled power plants – the world’s largest sources of the carbon emissions that are causing climate change.
“Every word of this plan was written by the coal industry lobbyists to allow their companies to continue to poison our air and our climate,” said Healey. “Replacing the Clean Power Plan will cause tens of thousands of asthma attacks, missed school, and lost work days, and raise American rates of heart and respiratory disease. I will never back down while the Trump Administration threatens the health of our children, the quality of our air, or the clean energy jobs of Massachusetts.”
In extensive comments submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday, on Halloween, the coalition argues that the agency’s unlawful replacement proposal ignores EPA’s clear responsibility under the federal Clean Air Act to set nationwide limits reducing greenhouse gas emissions and would result in substantially more air pollution and in thousands of deaths every year.
The replacement proposal would allow dirty and aging coal fired power plants, which should be closed, to extend their lives and increase harmful pollution by making upgrades that do not cut emissions.
The coalition makes clear in its comments that the proposed rule will lead to more than 1,600 premature deaths, 120,000 asthma attacks, 140,000 missed school days, and 48,000 missed school days in 2030 in comparison to the Clean Power Plan. The attorneys general also argue that the rule will lead to a rise in heart and lung disease.
EPA estimates that up to 61 million more tons of carbon dioxide would be emitted from the power sector under the proposed rule in 2030, as compared to the Clean Power Plan, and thousands of tons of additional air pollutants.
In its comments, the coalition makes clear that EPA is required by law to justify its proposed rule in light of the serious public health and environmental harms posed and may not simply abandon the rule to appease industry lobbyists.
According to the comments, the replacement proposal fails to address the urgent threat of climate change, which is already harming states across the country, including Massachusetts. The comments note that Massachusetts could experience more than 10 feet of sea-level rise by 2100 (relative to the 2000 level).
This month’s report and dire warnings by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change emphasize the critical importance of strengthening greenhouse gas emission regulations.
Today’s comments argue that the agency failed to consider relevant evidence regarding proven systems to reduce power-plant pollution, such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which has reduced power-plant carbon emissions by more than 40 percent in Massachusetts and other participating Northeast states without impeding economic growth or affecting electric grid reliability.
The Clean Power Plan, finalized in 2015 under the Obama Administration, is the culmination of a decade-long effort by EPA to partner with states and cities to require mandatory cuts in the emissions of climate-warming pollution from fossil fuel-burning power plants under the Clean Air Act.
The Clean Power Plan, along with a companion rule applicable to new, modified, and reconstructed power plants, would set limits on the amount of carbon pollution that power plants can emit.
The Clean Power Plan’s emission limits for existing plants were projected to eliminate as much carbon pollution as is emitted by more than 160 million cars a year—or 70 percent of the nation’s passenger cars.
On Aug. 21 — the day the Trump Administration revealed its replacement proposal—AG Healey announced her staunch opposition to the proposal. In her statement, AG Healey said the proposal “deserves to be tossed in a recycling bin,” and was written to “suffocate clean energy companies that are growing more competitive every day.”
AG Healey has long been an advocate of combatting climate change and expanding Massachusetts’ clean energy economy. For years, the Massachusetts AG’s Office has been a leader in pursuing federal regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, including leading a coalition of states, in coordination with numerous environmental groups, in Massachusetts v. EPA. Together with other state AGs, AG Healey insisted on a robust public process for the proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan and is committed to fighting the repeal in court. AG Healey is leading a coalition of states who have pledged to sue the Trump Administration over its environmentally-destructive and costly plan to roll back federal limits on greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks.
Joining AG Healey in filing the comments are the attorneys general of New York, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota (by and through its Minnesota Pollution Control Agency), New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia, and the cities of Boulder (CO), Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, and South Miami FL., and Broward County, FL