Mass Attorney General Calls For EPA To Withdraw Proposal For New Coal-Powered Plants

The following is a press release from the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office submitted to SOURCE.

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BOSTON – Massachusetts Atorney General Maura Healey today, March 19 joined a coalition of 27 states, counties, and cities in demanding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) withdraw its proposal to weaken current limits on greenhouse gas pollution from new, modified, and reconstructed coal-fired power plants.

In comments filed with EPA Monday, the coalition argues that EPA’s illegal proposal would severely impact the health of their residents and the environment by allowing new coal-fired power plants to pollute the air and exacerbate climate change.

A new coal-fired plant likely could meet the proposed weakened standard, even if it did not use any carbon dioxide emissions controls at all. 

“This plan is yet another attempt by the Trump Administration to enrich the coal industry by poisoning our air and our climate,” Healey said. “We should not be weakening common-sense pollution limits on dirty and costly power plants at a time when we urgently need to transition to clean energy resources.”

EPA adopted greenhouse gas emission standards for new coal-fired plants, known as the New Source Performance Standards, in 2015, after a comprehensive examination of systems available to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from new coal-fired plants.

The agency determined that partial carbon capture and storage—removing some carbon dioxide from the plant’s smokestack and storing it permanently underground—is the best system.

The agency’s new proposal seeks to reverse the agency’s previous finding, and its proposal would fail to require controls on par with partial carbon and storage in favor of a weaker standard.

According to the coalition’s comments, the proposal fails to address the urgent threat of climate change, which is already harming states across the country, including Massachusetts. Since the current standards took effect in 2015, the earth has experienced the warmest year on record.

The federal government’s own analysis of the impacts of climate change on the country warns of the urgent need for further emission reductions to avoid substantial damage to the economy, environment, and human health over the coming decades.

Failing to further reduce U.S. emissions risks thousands of American lives and hundreds of billions of dollars, more than the current gross domestic product of many U.S. states.

In the letter, the coalition points out a number of other problems with EPA’s proposal, including that:

  • The proposal is arbitrary and capricious and violates the Clean Air Act, as it fails to consider relevant evidence regarding proven systems to reduce power-plant pollution;
  • EPA ignores the increased environmental harms that could result from weakening the emission standard;
  • EPA fails to justify reversing its finding that carbon storage capacity is sufficiently available and accessible throughout the country; and
  • the agency has not provided enough information to permit the public to comment meaningfully.

The existing New Source Performance Standards, along with the Clean Power Plan, a companion rule applicable to existing power plants, set limits on the amount of carbon pollution that power plants can emit. Those standards, finalized under the Obama Administration, are 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.

In October 2018, AG Healey joined a coalition of 26 states, counties, and cities that submitted detailed comments to EPA urging it to abandon its illegal and dangerous proposal to replace the Clean Power Plan. The Administration’s proposal to repeal and replace the Clean Power Plan would allow dirty and aging coal-fired power plants to extend their lives by making upgrades without having to install pollution controls, and would result in up to 61 million more tons of carbon dioxide emissions. AG Healey is committed to fighting the repeal of the Plan in court

Joining AG Healey in filing the comments are the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota (by and through its Minnesota Pollution Control Agency), New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia; the Maryland Department of the Environment; the cities of Boulder, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, and South Miami; and Broward County, FL.

Framingham Source Editor Susan Petroni

Susan Petroni Framingham Source Editor Email: editor@FraminghamSource.com Phone: 508-315-7176

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