February 28, 2018 Categories: Climate Change EPA Rule

Why Protecting the Clean Power Plan Matters

NextGen Policy Center

by Dan Lashof

The Environmental Protection Agency originally planned to hold only one public hearing, in West Virginia, on Administrator Scott Pruitt’s proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan. After a public outcry, the agency agreed to hold three additional “Listening Sessions.” Below (as prepared for delivery) is the statement I gave at today’s session in San Francisco.  

My name is Daniel Lashof, I am the Chief Operating Officer of NextGen Policy Center.

While it seems like a different era, not that long ago I had the pleasure of participating in the extensive public engagement process EPA conducted to Develop the Clean Power Plan.

I am not pleased to be here today witnessing the sham process Scott Pruitt is using to repeal the Clean Power Plan. But I feel compelled to add my voice to the large chorus who are calling BS on the reckless agenda that President Trump and Administrator Pruitt are pursuing on behalf of their dirty energy friends at the expense of the American people.

Regardless of their desires, the fact is that the unlimited carbon pollution era is over. The Supreme Court has ruled three times that EPA has an obligation to regulate heat-trapping pollutants that endanger public health and welfare. So the question confronting EPA is not whether to limit carbon pollution from power plants, but how to do it.

The Clean Power Plan was designed to give maximum flexibility to states and power producers to reduce carbon pollution at the lowest possible cost. It does this by recognizing that individual power plants do not operate independently of each other. The cheapest way to reduce carbon pollution is usually to invest in energy efficiency improvements and to replace electricity from dirty power plants with electricity from cleaner energy sources.

This is exactly what is happening. And it’s happening much faster and cheaper than EPA anticipated. In fact, last year carbon pollution from the power sector was already 28% below 2005 levels — equal to the reduction the Clean Power Plan was expected to achieve in 2025.

One reason: The costs of wind and solar energy today are already less than the costs EPA had projected for 2030.

The transition to clean power is now inexorable.

So if we are going to exceed the emission reductions called for in the Clean Power Plan, why does it matter if Scott Pruitt repeals it?

Because to prevent climate catastrophe we need to hit the accelerator, not the brake.

And the flexible, market-based framework established in the Clean Power Plan provides a great cost-effective basis for doing just that.

By contrast, Pruitt’s proposal to focus only on measures that can be applied on a plant-by-plant basis would raise costs and lower benefits.

Mr. Pruitt’s claims to the contrary are “untethered to evidence,” as a Federal Judge recently said about a different Trump Administration effort to roll back environmental protections.

Scott Pruitt has repeatedly shown a disregard for science and a hostility to EPA’s mission. Instead of protecting the health and safety of the American people, he’s letting criminal polluters go unprosecuted and rolling back life-savings standards like the Clean Power Plan.

Mr. Pruitt may be able to temporarily hide from the public at taxpayer expense in his private phone booth and the First Class cabin of airplanes, but he can’t hide from these facts. It’s time for him to resign.

 

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