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Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General

Mark Herring
Attorney General

202 North Ninth Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219

 

For media inquiries only, contact:  
Charlotte Gomer, Press Secretary
Phone: (804)786-1022 
Mobile: (804) 512-2552
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING FILES SUIT TO BLOCK TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S DIRTY POWER RULE

~ Coalition of 29 states, cities charges Trump EPA’s “Dirty Power” Affordable Clean Energy Rule violates Clean Air Act while propping up dirty, expensive coal power and undercutting clean, renewable, and affordable energy ~

RICHMOND(August 13, 2019) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring today joined a coalition of 22 states and 7 local governments in announcing a lawsuit against the Trump Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) – aka “Dirty Power” – rule, which allegedly violates the Clean Air Act and will have almost no impact on reversing climate change. The “Dirty Power” rule replaced the Clean Power Plan, the first-ever nationwide limits on existing fossil-fueled power plants, one of the largest sources of climate change pollution. The EPA’s rule rolls-back these limits and will have virtually no impact on these emissions, prolonging the nation’s reliance on polluting, expensive coal power plants and obstructing progress of states toward clean, renewable, and affordable electricity generation.        

 

“The Trump Administration has made no attempts to even pretend like they are concerned about climate change in our country and this replacement of the Clean Power Plan makes that painfully obvious,” said Attorney General Herring. “Virginia is particularly susceptible to the devastating effects of climate change and sea level rise, especially in Hampton Roads where the region is facing billions of dollars in infrastructure and coastal resiliency measures over the next few decades. I will continue to fight this new ‘Dirty Power’ rule and do everything I can to ensure that effective measures are put in place to cut down on pollution and reverse climate change in our country.”

 

The new “Dirty Power” rule barely mentions climate change and does not recognize the dire threats it poses to people’s health, the economy, or the environment. Additionally, the rule does not comply with requirements included in the federal Clean Air Act that says limits on air pollutants must be based on the emissions reductions achievable through the “best system of emission reduction” or shifting from coal-fueled generation to a less carbon-intensive generation. One of the most efficient and cost-effective “best systems” is a cap-and-trade program, that has proven to be a successful way to comply with the Clean Air Act requirements and reduce power plant emissions. The “Dirty Power” rule prohibits states from participating in cap-and-trade programs, which means that the new rule is not in compliance with the Clean Air Act.

 

According to the “Dirty Power” rule, the “best system” would be to upgrade equipment at coal power plants. This will reduce emissions by only 0.7 percent more by 2030 than if no rule existed, according to the EPA’s only analysis. The EPA also found that emissions of one or more of three pollutants – carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and sulfur dioxide (SO2) – will increase in 18 states in 2030 compared to no “Dirty Power” rule.

 

The differences in benefits provided by the Clean Power Plan compared to the Trump “Dirty Power” rule are substantial, as reflected in the table below using the EPA’s own calculations when it finalized the two rules: 

 

The implications of the “Dirty Power” rule’s failure to achieve virtually any reductions in power plant emissions are serious. The International Energy Agency estimates that climate change pollution from the U.S. power sector must be reduced by 74 percent by 2030 below 2005 levels for the U.S. to be able to achieve the goal of limiting worldwide temperature increase to less than 2 degrees Celsius. By the EPA’s own estimates, the “Dirty Power” rule falls woefully short of hitting this target with a projected reduction of only 35 percent from 2005 levels. Of that, only roughly one percent is attributable to the impact of the “Dirty Power” rule and 34 percent attributable to market factors.  

 

Among the harms that Virginia specifically faces from increasing climate change are:

  • Norfolk has experienced the equivalent of 18.2 inches of relative sea level rise in the past 100 years, compared with the global average of 7-8 inches since 1890
  • Ordinary rain events now cause flooding in the streets of Norfolk, including large connector streets going underwater.
  • Norfolk naval base, the largest navy base in the world, is currently replacing 14 piers due to sea level rise, at a cost of $35-40 million per pier.
  • According to Old Dominion University's Center for Sea Level Rise, the city of Norfolk alone will need at least $1 billion in the coming decades to replace current infrastructure and keep water out of city homes and businesses.
  • According to a recent study by the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission, costs from three feet of sea-level rise in the Hampton Roads region are expected to range between $12 billion and $87 billion.

                        

Previously, Attorney General Herring called on the EPA to abandon its proposed replacement of the Clean Power Plan in extensive comments filed with the EPA.

 

Today’s suit was filed in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Attorney General Herring is joined in today’s suit by the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia, and the chief legal officers of Boulder, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, and South Miami. 

 

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