Under the Trump Administration, the United States is falling far behind its commitments to the Paris Agreement at the federal level. The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed stark rollbacks to existing policies meant to cut carbon emissions nationwide, as well as common-sense pollution controls on emissions from power plants such as methane and mercury. With the release of the latest IPCC report, it is clear that no country can afford the costs of inaction on climate change. While the U.S. should truly commit to strong carbon reduction measures like a carbon tax or cap and trade program in order to meet its intended nationally determined contribution under the Paris Agreement, the current administration’s position and the recent resolution by House Republicans to reject any proposal of a carbon tax has made it clear that such proposals are unrealistic in today’s political climate. Rather, the U.S. could begin to take a step in the right direction by canceling the proposed ACE rule (“Affordable Clean Energy rule” – though it should be noted that the proposal would result in neither “clean” nor “affordable” energy) and reinstating the Clean Power Plan, which would limit carbon emissions from power plants and restrict the construction of new, carbon intensive power plants.
The Clean Power Plan was originally designed and implemented in 2015. Potentially, it would lead to a 32% reduction in emissions from energy generation from 2005 levels by the year 2030. With several years lost since the initial proposal of the plan, the benefits would likely be slightly lower, but still significant. Although experts expect the energy industry to transition naturally toward more carbon-neutral generation sources, this policy would still have a significant effect on American emissions.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has the authority under the Clean Air Act – and, some would argue, the mandate – to regulate carbon pollution. Therefore, the agency should take swift action to reinstate the Clean Power Plan and begin enforcing the limits.
Activity Rating: ** Standing Still
Although it would seem simpler to reinstate a regulation than to implement a new one, the Clean Power Plan faces many hurdles to its passage. First, the Trump Administration has shown itself to be adamantly opposed to any climate action. Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler would be unlikely to encourage the policy to move forward as it is inconsistent with his outspoken support for the coal industry. Another challenge the plan would face is opposition from some states, who have previously argued that the rule was an overreach of the EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act.
Take Action: Please send the following message to the policymaker below:
Dear Acting Administrator Wheeler,
Given the most recent findings by the IPCC, it is more important now than ever to do the most in our power to reduce our contributions to climate change or face catastrophic damages. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has both the authority and the duty to limit carbon pollution. Please scrap the ACE rule and reinstate the Clean Power Plan.
Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler
William Jefferson Clinton Building
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N. W.
Mail Code: 1101A
Washington, DC 20460