EPA files 1st defense of Clean Power Plan
The EPA yesterday filed a 200-page merit brief defending its proposal to regulate existing power plants, saying climate change is a “monumental threat” and that the agency is within its authority to take action.
“The [Clean Power Plan] will secure critically important reductions in carbon dioxide emissions from what are by far the largest emitters in the United States — fossil-fuel-fired power plants,” EPA said. “CO2 and other heat-trapping greenhouse-gas emissions pose a monumental threat to Americans’ health and welfare by driving long-lasting changes in our climate, leading to an array of severe negative effects, which will worsen over time.”
Opponents of the rule – which the EPA says will save 3,600 lives annually, prevent 90,000 child asthma attacks each year and save families almost $85 a year in energy bills – have been attacking the Clean Power Plan since before the rule was finalized in August 2015.
Aside from debate over greenhouse gases, climate change and the shift to renewable energy, the rule’s critics argue the EPA lacks authority to regulate plants as that is the jurisdiction of states. Federal officials, however, say the Clean Air Act provides “well-established authority” to address public health threats.
“For decades, a host of CAA regulatory programs have limited various pollutants emitted by these plants,” the government argued. “The [Clean Power Plan] reflects the eminently reasonable exercise of EPA’s recognized statutory authority. It will achieve cost-effective CO2 reductions from an industry that has already demonstrated its ability to comply with robust pollution-control standards through the same measures and flexible approaches.”
The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and other parties to the case are expected to file briefs today.