|July 09, 2019|
Health groups sue over Trump rollback of Obama-era emissions rule
|Two major health organizations on Monday sued the Trump administration over its rollback of an Obama-era rule on power plant emissions.|
The American Lung Association and the American Public Health Association are challenging President Trump's newly unveiled American Clean Energy (ACE) rule, the administration's replacement for the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan.
Critics have widely panned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under Trump for introducing a rule opponents say will do little to reduce pollution from power plants.
"In repealing the Clean Power Plan and adopting the ACE rule, EPA abdicates its legal duties and obligations to protect public health under the Clean Air Act, which is why we are challenging these actions," the two groups said in a statement Monday.
"EPA has legal authority and obligation under the Clean Air Act to protect and preserve public health and welfare, including by regulating carbon dioxide pollution from coal-fired power plants," they added. "However, it is simply not lawful for EPA to use its legal authority in ways that will increase dangerous air pollutants and harm the health of Americans."
The EPA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Trump administration's replacement rule is designed to give states more time and authority to decide how to implement new technology to lower net emissions from coal-fired plants.
The administration argues that the Obama rule was too extreme, and that the replacement rule focuses more narrowly on technology power plants can use to reduce their pollution.
"This regulation does not cap emissions, does not set a statewide cap or a facility cap --- we don't cap emissions, we limit emissions rates," a top EPA official told reporters on a call when the ACE rule was announced.
A number of state attorneys general and environmental groups have vowed to sue over the new rule.
"The statute requires maximum feasible emissions reduction," said Andres Restrepo, a lawyer with the Sierra Club, which is planning to file a lawsuit. "This comes nowhere near doing that."
The eventual outcome of a potential lawsuit challenging certain aspects of the EPA's new rule could have a lasting impact.
"What they want is a court ruling that says the best system of emission reduction is limited to these tiny minor tweaks that do nothing, and then the EPA can do nothing going forward to address pollution," said Lisa Lynch, a lawyer with the Natural Resources Defense Council, which also plans to sue. "That's what the EPA wants."