Clean Power Plan supporters came out en masse to defend the carbon pollution rule on Friday with major brand companies filing amicus, or “friend of the court,” briefs with the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.
The EPA’s Clean Power Plan requires existing coal-burning power plants to cut carbon emissions by 32 percent by 2030, compared to 2005 levels. On June 2 the court will hear oral arguments on the emissions rule.
In February, the US Supreme Court temporarily halted implementation of the Clean Power Plan, grating a “stay” while the appeals court considers a legal challenge to the rule. More than 20 energy companies, other businesses and industry organizations, and 27 states filed lawsuits to overturn it.
On Friday tech giants Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft filed a brief endorsing the Clean Power Plan. The “tech amici” companies are among the country’s biggest users of electricity. In 2015, the four collectively used over 10 million megawatt-hours of electricity to power their operations, which includes over 50 data centers in 12 states. The companies say this will grow as the number of data centers increases.
To limit their own environmental impact, the four have all committed to purchasing renewable energy, which is “affordable, reliable, and consistent with sound business practices,” the brief says. Apple currently generates or buys enough renewable power to supply electricity to 100 percent of its US facilities and 93 percent of its worldwide facilities. Google, which has been carbon neutral since 2007, has pledged to power its global operations with 100 percent renewable energy. To date, the company has committed to purchasing more than 2 gigawatts of renewable energy, making it the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the world. Microsoft, carbon neutral since 2012, has also set a goal to use 100 percent renewable energy.
“With the [Clean Power] Plan in place, growth in renewable energy will continue, as electricity generators and sellers will have even more reasons to work with significant purchasers like Tech Amici to develop new approaches that support renewable energy,” the brief says.
Also on Friday four other major global firms — Adobe, Mars, Ikea North America, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts — filed an amicus brief supporting the Clean Power Plan. Most of the largest US businesses, including all of the signatories, have set specific goals to boost renewable energy use to “cut costs and hedge the risks of relying on entirely on increasingly volatile fossil fuels,” the brief says, adding that keeping the Clean Power Plan on track will stimulate more renewable investments, “long-term price certainty” and improve the quality of public health in the long run.