Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin today joined a broad coalition of 19 states and cities to urge President-Elect Donald Trump to continue the federal government's defense of the Clean Power Plan, regulating carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, and to continue EPA's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Media reports have indicated the incoming administration's desire to scrap the Clean Power Plan. Further cause for concern for Attorney General Kilmartin and those who support efforts to reduce climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions is the nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as Director of the EPA, who has been leading a coalition of attorneys general that is currently engaged in a lawsuit against the EPA to abolish the Clean Power Plan. The matter is currently before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Rhode Island has formally intervened in support of the EPA's greenhouse gas rules in the numerous challenges in federal court and specifically in the Clean Power Plan lawsuit.
"Rhode Island is seeing firsthand the significant human and economic costs caused by unchecked carbon pollution, said Attorney General Kilmartin. "Rising sea levels are eroding our shorelines and causing more severe and frequent coastal flooding; warmer ocean temperatures are changing the fish species in our local waters; and a warmer climate is causing more severe weather events, from heat waves and cold spells to droughts and record-setting snowfall. I implore the President-elect not to abandon the critical measures we as a nation have taken in cutting dangerous emissions and reducing carbon pollution. There is too much at stake for our air, waters and environment for this to become a political football."
As stated by the Attorneys General and partners to President-Elect Trump:
"We urge you to continue the federal government's defense of the Clean Power Plan, a well-considered and critical rule that reasonably limits emissions from fossil-fueled power plants, our nation's largest source of carbon pollution. We joined in EPA's defense of the Clean Power Plan in court mindful of the grave threats that carbon pollution poses to our residents, economies, infrastructure, and natural resources. The Clean Power Plan builds on successful strategies that states, local governments and the power sector have used to cost effectively cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, while at the same time creating jobs and growing our economies. It establishes a nationwide framework to achieve substantial reductions of carbon-dioxide emissions while providing states and power plants flexibility to decide how best to achieve these reductions. The rule is expected to eliminate 870 million tons of greenhouse gases by 2030, equivalent to the annual emissions of about 160 million cars. And the rule satisfies EPA's legal obligation under the Clean Air Act to limit harmful pollution from power plants that endangers public health and welfare."
The letter also disputes the claims made in a December 14 letter from West Virginia and other States to Vice President-Elect Pence and congressional leaders indicating the incoming administration unravel the Clean Power Plan simply by formally withdrawing the lawsuit or rescinding the Plan through Executive Order. Attorney General Kilmartin and the others cite legal precedent and history as reasons the Trump administration should allow the dispute over the Clean Power Plan to be resolved by the Courts.
The Clean Power Plan is the culmination of a decade-long effort by partnering states and cities to require mandatory cuts in the emissions of climate change pollution from fossil fuel burning power plants under the Clean Air Act. The Clean Power Plan, along with the companion rule applicable to new, modified, and reconstructed power plants, will control these emissions by setting limits on the amount of climate change pollution that power plants can emit. The rule for existing plants is expected to eliminate as much climate change pollution as is emitted by more than 160 million cars a year – or 70% of the nation's passenger cars.
EPA adopted the Clean Power Plan through a multi-year stakeholder process that drew heavily on the experience of states and utilities in reducing power plant greenhouse gas emissions. A number of states, including Rhode Island, have already taken a leading role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by moving forward with their own programs.
Rhode Island and eight other states are part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which has reduced regional carbon dioxide emissions from the electricity sector by 40 percent from 2005 levels. The RGGI states have shown that by a combination of encouraging shifts to less carbon-intensive fossil fuel generation, increasing reliance on renewable energy, and using proceeds to invest in energy efficiency, substantial reductions in carbon dioxide emissions are possible over a relatively short period, while supporting economic goals and maintaining grid reliability. An independent analysis found that in the first three years of the RGGI program, the reinvestment of allowance auction proceeds is reducing total energy bills across the region by $1.3 billion and adding $1.6 billion to the regional economy, creating an estimated 16,000 jobs in the process.