Clean Power Plan Repeal Puts Coal Profits Ahead Of Health, Ignores Accelerating Weather Dangers

EPA Abdicating its Legal, Moral Obligation to Protect Communities

Charlottesville, VA  – Without offering any ideas, substitutes or leadership, the Trump-appointed EPA chief today announced plans to repeal the landmark Clean Power Plan that was meant to address climate change and the extreme weather it produces.

The repeal and the void of alternatives is coming while communities across the South have been battered this year with droughts, flooding, heat waves and two of the most powerful hurricanes on record. This year’s unusually violent weather has caused tens of billions of dollars in damage, much of which the federal government will have to cover.

Sought by coal-industry lobbyists and executives, this repeal guts the Clean Power Plan’s mission of reducing the amount of greenhouse gases spewed into the atmosphere, mainly from fossil-fuel fired power plants. Scientists have concluded the gases – mostly carbon dioxide – are responsible for warming the Earth, raising sea level, and providing the fuel needed to intensify storms.

“The Environmental Protection Agency is no longer protecting us, but instead protecting the wallets of coal industry executives and lobbyists,” said Amanda Garcia, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center. “It is flat-out irresponsible to kill the safeguards that were ultimately meant to protect us and our property from the kinds of extreme weather the country has suffered this year.”

The repeal could also inhibit parts of the thriving renewable-energy industries that bloomed from the Clean Power Plan’s push to reduce carbon pollution. According to the Solar Foundation, nearly 20,000 workers in SELC’s six-state area now earn their livings in the solar industry.

Further, a Clean Power Plan replacement could take years to put together at a time when the effects of climate change and sea-level rise are beginning to wreak havoc on our Southeast communities.

“President Trump and EPA Administrator Pruitt are ignoring the reality of what is happening in our states, and in our neighborhoods,” Garcia said. “They are ignoring the realities of a changing climate that is routinely flooding places like Norfolk and Charleston. They’re essentially telling us political favors dished out to the coal sector are more important than our health and our homes.”

In fact, Pruitt, as Oklahoma Attorney General, fought on behalf of coal companies and other science deniers to halt the Clean Power Plan. Now as EPA Administrator, he believes he has authority to repeal the plan and delay taking action to control carbon pollution from coal plants indefinitely.

“This marks a dereliction of duty at precisely the moment when we need strong action from the EPA to help protect our Southeastern communities from worsening storms and sea level rise,” said Nat Mund, SELC’s director of federal affairs.

“Nature is sending us a message and the EPA has clearly tuned it out,” Garcia said. “This repeal is taking us in a dangerous direction.”

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About The Southern Environmental Law Center:

The Southern Environmental Law Center is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. With nine offices across the region (Charlottesville, VA; Chapel Hill, NC; Atlanta, GA; Charleston, SC; Washington, DC; Birmingham, AL; Nashville, TN; Asheville, NC; and Richmond, VA), SELC is widely recognized as the Southeast’s foremost environmental organization and a regional leader. SELC works on a full range of environmental issues to protect the South’s natural resources and the health and well-being of all the people in our region. www.SouthernEnvironment.org