A.G. Schneiderman Leads Coalition of 25 States, Cities and Counties in Defense of EPA’s Clean Power Plan

Coalition Cites Critical Need For Rules In Order To Protect The Public, The Environment, And To Grow Our Economies

Schneiderman: We Are Committed To Aggressively Defending The Clean Power Plan To Ensure Progress Is Made In Confronting Climate Change

NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced today that a coalition of 25 states, cities and counties led by his office filed a motion to intervene to defend the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s “Clean Power Plan” against legal challenge. The coalition’s motion to intervene in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit responds to suits that several states and industry groups have filed challenging the rule. The Clean Power Plan rule requires fossil-fueled power plants, the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions in the nation, to cut their emissions pursuant to the Clean Air Act.

“Climate change represents an unprecedented threat to the environment, public health, and our economy.  We no longer can afford to respond to this threat with denials or obstruction,” Attorney General Schneiderman said.  “The EPA’s Clean Power Plan is a critical step forward in responding to the threat of climate change.  The rule is firmly grounded in science and the law.  The rule incorporates successful strategies New York and other states have used to cut climate change pollution from power plants while maintaining electricity reliability, holding the line on utility bills, and growing our economies.  We are committed to aggressively defending the Clean Power Plan to ensure progress is made in confronting climate change.”

The finalization of the Clean Power Plan marks the culmination of a decade-long effort by New York and 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 on 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 New York, have already taken a leading role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by moving forward with their own programs. 

New York 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 reducing the demand for generation through 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.  

“President Obama’s plan to limit harmful emissions from power plants is necessary to preserve our natural resources and protect public health. I will vigorously defend these rules on behalf of future generations of Californians,” said California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris.

“We are proud today to join 17 states, the District of Columbia, and the cities of Boulder, Chicago Philadelphia, South Miami and New York and Broward County in Florida in moving to intervene in support of EPA’s Clean Power Plan. Our office has long advocated for regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, and it was our office that won the landmark Supreme Court victory in Mass v. EPA, which held that greenhouse gases are air pollutants under the Clean Air Act. We understand how important it is to reduce global warming pollution. At the same time, we need to get this right. The Rule will allow us to curb carbon emissions from existing power plants, and do it in a way that allows the states maximum flexibility. Here in Massachusetts, we’ve been national leaders in clean energy – from the regional greenhouse gas initiative, to energy efficiency programs, and a standard to promote greater reliance on renewable energy. Those programs have been good for Massachusetts residents and good for our regional economy. There is no time to waste.  Securing these emissions reductions from power plants--the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States—is a critical step toward putting us on a path to avoid dangerous levels of warming, and toward building a sustainable energy future,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.

Joining Attorney General Schneiderman in today’s filing are the states of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, the District of Columbia, the Cities of New York, Boulder, Chicago, Philadelphia, South Miami, and Broward County (FL).

A copy of the motion can be found here.

The matter is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Michael J. Myers, Morgan Costello, and Brian Lusignan, all of the Attorney General’s Environmental Protection Bureau, led by Bureau Chief Lemuel M. Srolovic and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice Alvin Bragg, and Assistant Solicitors General Bethany Davis-Noll and Karen Lin and Deputy Solicitor General Steven Wu of the Division of Appeals and Opinions, led by Solicitor General Barbara Underwood.

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