Sunday, June 26, 2016

Suing and Spewing: The Massive Pollution Behind the Fight to Overturn the Clean Power Plan

The Clean Power Plan, or CPP, was finalized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, on August 5, 2015, and establishes the first-ever standards for carbon emissions from power plants.  The CPP will help the United States reduce the pollution that causes increased global temperatures, rising sea levels, and other effects of climate change.  According to the Energy Information Administration—a federal agency that collects and analyzes data on energy production and usage—the CPP will reduce the power sector’s carbon pollution by 35 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.  This puts annual pollution levels more than 400 million metric tons lower than their projected totals without the CPP in place.  The power producers who would be responsible for achieving these emissions reductions have had a mixed response to the plan.  Some power producers have supported the CPP, recognizing business opportunities in a growing clean energy sector.  Some have remained neutral pending judicial review of the rule while other power producers are opposing the CPP altogether, because they are heavily invested in higher-polluting electricity generation.

On October 23, 2015, electric power producers, trade associations, coal companies, and 24 state attorneys general filed suit against the EPA to block implementation of—and ultimately undo—the CPP.  Subsequently, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered a stay of the CPP and halted implementation requirements of states’ emissions reductions plans until the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals reviews the rule on its merits.  The court will hear oral arguments on this case—State of West Virginia, et al. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, et al.—on September 27, 2016.  Much of the opposition to the CPP comes from power producers and the trade associations that represent them—both of these groups have a vested interest in continuing to pollute at current levels.  This issue brief details the amount of carbon pollution emitted by the largest power producers that are affiliated with the lawsuit against the CPP in order to demonstrate the significant effect these entities have on domestic and international efforts to curtail climate change.
Power Producers CO2 Emissions and Litigating Status (Credit: Click to Enlarge.
CAP found that 43 of the top-100 electric power producers are directly or indirectly affiliated with the lawsuit.  Some key findings include:
  • In 2013 alone, these power producers emitted nearly 1.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide, or 21 percent of the United States’ total carbon pollution that year.
  • ...
  • The carbon pollution from these power producers was greater than that of 6 of the 10 top economies in the world.

Read more at Suing and Spewing: The Massive Pollution Behind the Fight to Overturn the Clean Power Plan

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