Expect a Court Battle after Trump EPA Pulls Plug on Clean Power Plan

Climate advocacy groups pledged to fight back against the Environmental Protection Agency on Monday after EPA head Scott Pruitt announced, after much speculation, that he would repeal the Obama-era Clean Power Plan—while state and local leaders said they would move forward with plans to limit greenhouse gas emissions even as the Trump administration abandons the EPA's core mission.

The Natural Resources Defense Council vowed to wage a legal fight to protect the rule, which President Barack Obama passed in 2015 with the goal of significantly reducing carbon emissions by 2030.

"Rolling back the Clean Power Plan has been part of Pruitt's agenda since well before he was approved to run the EPA," said 350.org executive director May Boeve. "Slashing climate policy is par for the course in the Trump administration, but we won't let it go unchallenged. This decision will be fought in the courts and in the streets. It will be up to people all across the country to do what the White House won't: shut down polluting fossil fuel projects and move our communities to 100% renewable energy for all."

Jamie Henn, 350.org's co-founder, reminded his Twitter followers of research that has shown the Clean Power Plan to be a life-saving law, preventing more than 1,000 heart attacks and illnesses per year by limiting air pollution.

A group representing 400,000 medical professionals agreed. "A decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan is a choice that puts American lives at greater risk from unhealthy air and the health harms from climate change," said the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health after Pruitt announced his decision.

As Axios reported, the EPA may open a public comment period asking Americans about a potential new rule to limit carbon emissions—a move that would delay "any action toward a carbon rule by several months if not a year or more."

Despite the EPA's decision under Trump, Bruce Ho of the NRDC said that the governors of the nine states in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) will continue to cut emissions at their states' power plants by 30 percent by 2030—building on the Initiative's achievement of cutting emissions to 79.2 million tons last year—already reaching their earlier 2030 target.

"Pruitt's attempt is the latest in the Trump administration's dangerous campaign of climate change denial, and is a wake-up call for state and local leaders: if you want to protect your citizens, it's time to take action yourselves because the Trump-Pruitt EPA has shown it's more interested in protecting polluters than the health of Americans," wrote Ho in a Monday blog post.

The Union of Concerned Scientists (USC) added that with President Donald Trump's earlier decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement, signed by nearly 200 countries, the EPA's move further isolates the U.S. while countries like China move away from a reliance on oil and gas.

"Instead of addressing one of the most significant problems facing mankind, the administration thumbed its nose at science, and now at the law," said Ken Kimmel, president of the USC. "Rather than positioning America in the global clean energy marketplace, the administration will stand on the sidelines."

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