28-Member State and Local Coalition Calls On EPA to Ensure “Fullest Possible Public Participation” on Proposal; EPA Has Scheduled Only One Public Hearing.
New York, NY - Sept. 12, 2018 - Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood, leading a coalition of 28 states, counties, and cities, is calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure that the public has an opportunity to thoroughly review and provide input on its proposed replacement to the Clean Power Plan. The coalition’s call was made in a letter to Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and relates to the Trump EPA’s recent proposed “replacement” for the Clean Power Plan, the first-ever national limits on climate change pollution emissions from existing fossil-fuel power plants – one of its largest sources.
The EPA “replacement” proposal may increase emissions of climate change pollution and other harmful pollutants from power plants. According to EPA’s own analysis, the proposal could result in over 100 million tons more carbon dioxide emissions and over 1,000 more premature deaths per year by 2030, compared to implementing the Clean Power Plan.
“In the face of another year of increasing extreme heat, devastating storms, and catastrophic flooding, EPA is seeking to roll back crucial climate change protections – and shutting out the voices of those who will be most harmed,” Attorney General Underwood said. “The Trump EPA must give the public ample opportunity to provide input on its proposal to gut crucial limits on emissions of climate change pollution from power plants. This includes holding hearings across the country to hear firsthand from New Yorkers and other Americans about the severe damage this reckless proposal will have on their health, communities, and wallets.”
The coalition’s letter points out that Acting EPA Administrator Wheeler, in a memo issued to EPA staff shortly after he was named to the post, said, “EPA must provide for the fullest possible public participation in [its] decision making” and must “take affirmative steps to seek out the views of those who will be affected by the decisions, including … the governments of states, cities and towns.”
The coalition argues that – given that power plants are one of the largest sources of climate change pollution, the complexity of the proposal, and its potentially significant adverse impacts on public health and the environment – an extension of the comment period on the proposed rule by 60 days is necessary to afford the states and cities sufficient time to review and comment on the proposal.
Further, in light of the numerous impacts that climate change is having on states and cities – from lengthy droughts and huge wildfires to record-setting rainfalls and scorching temperatures – the coalition is calling on EPA to hold public hearings on the proposed “replacement” rule in major geographic areas, including the northeast, West Coast, mid-Atlantic, and south. At present, the Trump EPA has scheduled one public hearing on the replacement rule, in Chicago, Illinois.
Joining Attorney General Underwood in the letter are the Attorneys General of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota (on behalf of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency), New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia; the City Attorneys of Boulder, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, and South Miami; and the County Attorney of Broward County (FL).
Last week, Attorney General Underwood — leading a 24-member coalition of states, counties, and cities — urged the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to reject the requests of the EPA and its supporters for further delay on a decision of the legality of the Clean Power Plan. A decision on legal challenges to the Clean Power Plan, brought by states and industry groups shortly after the rule was finalized, has been held in abeyance by the D.C. Circuit for 18 months, in response to repeated requests from the Trump EPA for time to review, repeal, or revise the plan.
The Clean Power Plan is the culmination of a decade-long effort by partnering states and cities to require mandatory cuts in the emissions of climate change pollution from fossil fuel-burning power plants under the Clean Air Act. The Clean Power Plan, along with the companion rule applicable to new, modified, and reconstructed power plants, would control these emissions by setting limits on the amount of climate change pollution that power plants can emit. The Clean Power Plan would eliminate as much climate change pollution as is emitted by more than 160 million cars a year – or 70 percent of the nation’s passenger cars.
This matter is being handled for Attorney General Underwood by Senior Counsel for Air Pollution and Climate Change Litigation Michael J. Myers, Affirmative Section Chief Morgan A. Costello, Special Assistant Attorney General Gavin McCabe, Assistant Attorney General Brian Lusignan, and Chief Scientist Alan Belensz of the Attorney General’s Environmental Protection Bureau. The Environmental Protection Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Lemuel M. Srolovic and is part of the Division of Social Justice, which is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice Matthew Colangelo.