The Trump administration’s decision to repeal an Obama-era rule on power plant pollution is sure to be met with a legal challenge by Democrats and environmental groups, who believe that the administration’s new rule will do little to stop climate change.
At the same time, they are accusing the administration of disregarding the Clean Air Act’s (CAA) requirement that pollution damaging to human health is managed by the federal government.
However, The Hill writes, the stakes are high for both sides. If Democrats and environmental groups lose, it could limit the EPA’s ability to address climate-changing pollution in future administrations, an outcome the Trump administration is counting on.
“If it’s upheld, this new highly constrained legal interpretation that they’ve put forward here could really hinder the use of the Clean Air Act in the future as a tool for reducing climate-changing pollution,” said Lissa Lynch, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), one of the environmental groups planning to sue.
The new rule set in place by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) replaces Obama’s Clean Power Plan rule that targeted emissions from coal plants and aimed at reducing the use of coal, but due to legal challenges never took effect.
The Trump administration rule will give states more freedom in choosing how to implement new technology to reduce emissions from coal-fired plants. It argues that the CPP was too extreme.
“This regulation does not cap emissions, does not set a state-wide cap or a facility cap — we don’t cap emissions, we limit emissions rates,” a top EPA official said when the new rule was announced.
Critics immediately took the opportunity to argue against it, saying that power plants have been a pollution source harmful to human health for decades. Among them are nine attorney generals, who are expected to file lawsuits soon.
“The coal lobbyists and climate deniers running the Trump Administration wrote every word of this unjustifiable and illegal rule that will pollute the air, explode emissions, and cost thousands of lives,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (D) said in a statement. “Massachusetts is committed to addressing the climate crisis and the public health impacts on our residents, and we will be suing to stand up for science and federal law.”