Proposed Climate Protection Regulations Proposed By EPA in Response to Settlement with Rhode Island and Coalition of Other States
Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin today commended the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for proposing regulations that will limit the amount of greenhouse gas emissions allowable from new fossil fuel power plants. EPA's action follows a settlement reached by a coalition of states, including Rhode Island, which required the Agency to finalize limits on power plant emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. That settlement also commits the EPA to proposing greenhouse gas emissions limits for existing power plants.
The climate protection benefits of the regulations proposed by EPA today would be substantial over time. Under the regulations, greenhouse gas emissions of new coal-fired power plants would be reduced by approximately 50 percent over the life of the plants.
"Addressing the threat posed by climate change is one of the most important challenges of our time – one that demands attention, leadership and action at all levels of government and by the private sector. I commend EPA for issuing these common-sense and cost-effective regulations that will result in substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from new fossil fuel power plants," said Attorney General Kilmartin. "EPA has a continuing legal obligation to take the next step and require existing fossil fuel power plants to reduce their emissions. The Agency's action today is an important step forward in confronting the public health, environmental and economic dangers posed by climate change, but we must remain vigilant in order to meaningfully reduce its scale and adverse effects on behalf of the people of Rhode Island."
In March 2011, Rhode Island 11 other states completed a settlement of the 2006 New York v. EPA litigation that required the Agency to finalize greenhouse gas emission standards for new and modified power plants, as well as existing power plants. The proposed standards announced by EPA today limiting the amount of these emissions from new power plants, partially fulfill EPA's commitments. Large quantity greenhouse gas emissions pollute the atmosphere by adding heat-trapping gasses that are raising the average temperature of the earth, which in turn is changing the climate in Rhode Island and around the globe.
EPA's action today is in response to the New York v. EPA litigation filed by Rhode Island and a coalition of state and local governments in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that challenged EPA's failure to comply with the legal mandate of the federal Clean Air Act to limit emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases as air pollutants emitted by power plants. This case was part of an integrated legal strategy pursued by the Rhode Island Attorney General's office and other states that resulted in the Supreme Court's historic 2007 decision in Massachusetts v. EPA that greenhouse gases are pollutants subject to regulation under the federal Clean Air Act.
Fossil fuel-fired power plants are the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, responsible for 40 percent of the nation's man-made carbon dioxide emissions in addition to emitting other pollutants that contribute to smog, acid rain and haze as well as the mercury contamination of lakes, streams and fish.