Business, Government

Md. joins 22 other states suing EPA over ‘dirty power’ rule

BALTIMORE, MD – Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh, joining a coalition of 22 states and 7 local governments, on Wednesday announced a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule. The ACE rule, dubbed the “Dirty Power” rule by environmentalists, replaces the Clean Power Plan, the first-ever nationwide limits on one of the largest sources of pollution: existing fossil-fueled power plants.

The EPA’s rule rolls back these limits, and will have virtually no impact on fossil fuel emissions. Wednesday’s lawsuit was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

“The EPA continues to prioritize the coal industry over clean, renewable energy,” said Attorney General Frosh. “The decision to implement the ‘Dirty Power’ rule will have long-lasting effects on public health. It will accelerate climate change at a time when we desperately need action to reverse it.”

The text of the ACE rule barely mentions climate change and disregards requirements of the federal Clean Air Act. This act requires that limits on air pollutants, such as greenhouse gases, must be based on the emissions reductions achievable through the “best system of emission reduction.”

However, in the “Dirty Power” rule, EPA has ruled out shifting from a coal-fueled generation to a less carbon-intensive generation.

The 10-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a market-based cap-and-trade program in which Maryland participates, has proven to be an effective, cost-efficient model for reducing power plant emissions of climate change pollution. Power plants in RGGI states have cut their emissions by more than 50 percent. Between 2015 and 2017, these states saw $1.4 billion of net positive economic activity and the creation of 14,500 new jobs—all while maintaining reliability of service and holding the line on electricity rates.

However, the “Dirty Power” rule prohibits states from relying on their participation in cap-and-trade programs, such as RGGI, as a means of complying with the requirements of the Clean Air Act.

The “best system of emission reduction” proposed in the “Dirty Power” rule consists solely of equipment upgrades at coal power plants. Such upgrades will reduce carbon emissions by 2030 only 0.7 percent more than having no rule at all, according to EPA’s own analysis. Further, EPA has found that emissions of one or more of three pollutants—carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and sulfur dioxide (SO2)—will increase in 18 states in 2030 compared to no “Dirty Power” rule.

In addition to Attorney General Frosh, the suit is joined by the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the chief legal officers of Boulder, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, and South Miami.

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