What to Look for When EPA Publishes Its Final Guidelines to Curb Carbon Pollution
Any day now, the Federal Register will publish the Environmental Protection Agency’s final standards to curb carbon pollution from power plants. That will trigger a stampede to the courthouse by the pollution industry and their allies seeking to block the Obama Administration’s historic efforts to combat dangerous climate change.
Here’s what else we know: Legal and political challenges to the Clean Power Plan are likely to fail because climate change is too big a problem to be denied and the climate action train has left the station. We’d encourage you to take a look at what’s already transpired this year and since President Obama announced the Clean Power Plan on August 3rd.
In Congress, the chief weapon available to Republican majorities in both houses is the Congressional Review Act, which they can use to try to block the Clean Power Plan standards.
A CRA “resolution of disapproval” can’t be filibustered and can pass by majority vote. But it does not become law without the president’s signature, and a resolution against the Clean Power Plan would be DOA at the White House. The GOP lacks the votes to override a presidential veto.
Other congressional legislative roadblocks also are likely to fall short because they, too, lack the votes to override a presidential veto.
In the States
Around the country, nearly every state is working with its power companies and other stakeholders to develop a state plan to implement the Clean Power Plan by reducing carbon pollution, and expanding clean energy and improving energy efficiency. Only one state, Oklahoma, has committed to follow Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s advice to “just say no” to the EPA standards.
In some states that are suing EPA, the state’s top officials are divided. In Missouri, Michigan and Colorado, attorneys general are suing EPA, but governors are committed to writing state plans to reduce carbon pollution, and expand clean energy and improve energy efficiency. Governors are working on state plans even in states where they back the legal challenge.
In the Courts
Many states are backing the Clean Power Plan. At least 15 attorneys general have vowed to defend the Clean Power Plan in court. The legal challenges to the CPP are likely to fail for reasons outlined in a NRDC fact sheet on what to expect in this litigation, and why the Clean Power Plan is on solid legal footing, here.
In the Court of Public Opinion
Leading editorial boards have embraced climate action or see the folly in trying to throw up legal roadblocks. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently chastised Missouri’s Attorney General Chris Koster for joining the attorneys general who plan to sue EPA: “Mr. Koster has taken a firm stand for mediocrity. It was the easy way out.” Read more here. The Kansas City Star also has just weighed, saying that the carbon standards “make good sense” and against the attorney general’s move, here.
Dozens of other editorial boards have spoken out specifically in favor the Clean Power Plan, some are here. And Forbes recently reported that despite the lawsuits even those in coal country are moving to comply with the Clean Power Plan, here:
The broad editorial support reflections national opinion, as seen in many polls. One conducted last spring by Yale and George Mason universities found that, 70% of Americans support placing strict limits on carbon pollution at existing power plants.
Among Utilities and Industry
Many leading energy companies and utilities are on board with the Clean Power Plan and have endorsed the upcoming international climate talks in Paris as a “critical opportunity’” to address climate change. They include BP, Shell, Alcoa, Calpine, Rio Tinto, HP and Siemens Corp, here.
Among power providers, for instance, Calpine Corp., which operates 83 power plants in the US, predicted that implementation of the Clean Power Plan will be a seminal moment in the history of the energy industry. “The Clean Power Plan represents a commitment to continuing the transition from carbon-intensive generation to efficient, low-carbon generation,” said Thad Hill, president and chief executive officer of Calpine.
Others include Virginia’s Dominion Resources and Houston’s Dynegy Inc. “Everybody is moving in this direction anyway,” Dominion CEO Tom Farrell told the Wall Street Journal.
Around the World
In the run-up to the all-important global talks in Paris in December, no fewer than 148 countries have submitted climate action pledges, covering nearly 90 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas pollution.
Adding momentum, hundreds of jurisdictions and cities in America and around the world have promised ambitious cuts and companies such as Alcoa, Apple, Bank of America, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Cargill, Coca-Cola, General Motors, Goldman Sachs, Google, Microsoft, PepsiCo, UPS, and Walmart have spoken out for a strong Paris agreement, and pledged $140 billion in new low-carbon investments.
And the road to climate action doesn’t end in Paris.
So, while foes of the Clean Power Plan will try, as West Virginia’s attorney general promised, “to gum up the works” in the courts, the fact is they’re too late. The world is already on the march to expand clean energy and cut the dangerous carbon pollution that puts our future in peril.
For further explanation about the case for the Clean Power Plan’s carbon pollution limits, please see this NRDC report.
This article was republished with permission from the NRDC.
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