Clean Power Plan “replacement” steers Southeast in the wrong direction

The Trump administration’s feeble replacement proposal for the Clean Power Plan reverses course, threatening to increase greenhouse gas pollution even as the Southeast is besieged with warmer temperatures, higher seas, and stronger storms, according to comments SELC submitted in objection to the plan.

To make matters worse, the administration’s proposal would likely result in dirtier air in our communities, as EPA seeks to prop up aging coal plants by allowing them to continue operating without installing modern pollution controls.

SELC and twenty-seven other concerned Southeastern environmental groups submitted the comments to EPA this week. All expressed worry that this EPA is appeasing industry by excusing them from more protective pollution controls required by the Clean Air Act.

The Clean Power Plan envisioned a power grid that reduced carbon pollution from coal plants while giving states flexibility to choose how to get there — including choosing energy generated from clean and renewable sources.

However, that plan was attacked by coal industry lobbyists and state attorneys general aligned with them. It was never enacted and, after President Trump took office, his EPA moved to erase the Clean Power Plan and replace it with a more industry-friendly proposal.

The EPA proposal will:

  • Extend the life of old and dirty coal plants
  • Allow carbon pollution to remain unchecked, and likely make it worse
  • Contribute to a changing climate that has unleashed record-setting hurricanes, including storms like Hurricane Florence that devastated parts of North Carolina.

So much misery was inflicted this year on the people of North Carolina and on the Gulf Coast of Florida, and this Trump plan just turns a blind eye,” said Senior Attorney Amanda Garcia. “We’re seeing seas rising at an alarming rate and storm seasons producing freakish hurricanes, yet the White House is doing exactly the opposite of what it should be doing. We are running out of time, and the Trump administration has us running backward.”

Not only does the proposal fail to cut carbon emissions from coal plants, it also would allow older coal plants to keep operating dirty when they make upgrades to extend the plants’ lives. As a result, we would miss out on significant opportunities to cut harmful air pollutants that contribute to poor air quality in our region. And the proposal would set a harmful precedent for other large polluting facilities in our region to ask for similar lax rules.

The Trump plan endorses old excuses offered by polluters instead of requiring them to clean up our air,” Garcia said. “Families in the Southeast deserves clean air and they certainly deserves a better plan than this.”

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