A.G. Schneiderman Commends EPA For Taking Action To Limit Greenhouse Gas Pollution From New Power Plants

Proposed Climate Protection Regulations In Response To Settlement With Schneiderman-led Coalition Of States

NEW YORK –Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman 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 led by Attorney General Schneiderman that 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 Schneiderman. “EPA has a continuing legal obligation to take the next step and require existing fossil fuel power plants – the largest producers of global warming pollution – 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 New York.”

In March 2011, under Attorney General Schneiderman's leadership, New York and its coalition completed a settlement of the 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, partly 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 New York and around the globe.

EPA’s action is in response to a 2006 lawsuit filed by New York 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.

Fossil fuel-fired power plants are the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States contributing to climate change, 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.

Since 2011, Attorney General Schneiderman has taken aggressiveaction to protect the air New Yorkers breathe. Last month, the Attorney General led a coalition of more than a dozen states in arguing before the D.C. Circuit Court in defense of related EPA regulations requiring certain large stationary sources of greenhouse gas pollution to reduce their emissions. Also last month, the Attorney General, leading a coalition of 11 states, filed a lawsuit to compel the EPA to safeguard New Yorkers' lungs by promptly revise national air quality standards for air pollution from soot. Attorney General Schneiderman has previously acted in defense of clean air in New York by:

  • filing a lawsuit against a Pennsylvania power plant emitting dangerous sulfur dioxide in violation of the federal Clean Air Act;
  • leading a coalition of attorneys general from Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, and Massachusetts, against efforts in the U.S. House of Representatives to remove critical environmental regulations that protect New York communities from toxic pollution; and
  • calling on the EPA to protect New York's air by implementing a proposed rule that would slash the amount of air pollution currently allowed to cross state lines.

This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Morgan Costello and Michael Myers and Chief Scientist Alan Belensz, under the supervision of the Attorney General’s Environmental Protection Bureau Chief Lemuel M. Srolovic and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice Janet Sabel.