A federal court has struck down the Trump Administration’s rule allowing power plants to continue massive carbon pollution unchecked.
Clean air and climate action advocates cheered the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, issued on the final day of the Trump Administration. The court struck down the Trump Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) so-called Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule, which attempted to repeal and replace the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan (CPP). The CPP was designed to cut climate-altering carbon dioxide emissions from American power plants by 415 million tons by 2030. In contrast, the Trump ACE would have cut those emissions by a comparatively trifling 11 million tons.
The court based its decision on its finding that the Trump EPA fundamentally misunderstood the Clean Air Act in writing its rule. The court’s ruling struck ACE down altogether, including its repeal of CPP.
Dozens of states and industrial and public interest groups weighed in on opposing sides of the controversy. There is no likelihood that the legal fight will stop at this point, as the Supreme Court could take it up upon appeal. However, the ruling gives the incoming administration a faster, cleaner route to implementing its own carbon-reduction strategies. It won’t have to burn time and attention repealing the Trump rule and findings. Instead, it can start from the CPP in crafting its own plans, including aggressive controls on carbon emissions from power plants.
David Doniger, senior strategic director of the Climate and Clean Energy Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said, “This timely, resounding rejection of the Trump EPA’s deeply flawed and illegal rollback of limits on carbon pollution from power plants clears the way for the Biden EPA to quickly set standards that will effectively slash CO2 emissions as America hastens the transition to cleaner and safer energy sources.”