(WASHINGTON, DC)—The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit today vacated the Trump EPA’s 2019 Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule. EPA repealed the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan for lowering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from power plants and replaced it with the ACE rule. Today’s decision overturns the ACE rule, which contains the repeal of the Clean Power Plan, and directs EPA to write a new rule to regulate GHG emission from power plants.
The D.C. Circuit found that EPA acted unlawfully by limiting its own authority under the Clean Air Act when it issued the ACE rule and repealed the Clean Power Plan. The court also determined that EPA’s attempt to use the ACE rule to slow the pace of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants was “arbitrary and capricious.”
The Court further stated that climate change is the most pressing environmental challenge of our time and found that the ACE rule failed to reduce GHG emissions from one of the largest sources of emissions—power plants.
The Clean Water Blueprint for saving the Bay and its waterways relies on EPA to reduce pollution from power plants to meet the Blueprint’s 2025 deadline. Power plant emissions of carbon dioxide and other GHGs also fuel climate change, which is causing increasing damage to the Bay watershed through rising sea levels, eroding shorelines, and higher water temperature, which decreases oxygen available to fish, oysters, and crabs, among other harmful effects.
CBF sued EPA in August 2019 over repealing the Clean Power Plan and replacing it with the ACE rule. CBF objected to the ACE rule’s failure to set limits that would actually reduce carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel-fired power plants. CBF also warned that the ACE rule could lead to increased nitrogen oxide pollution, compared to the Clean Power Plan. One-third of nitrogen, one of the three major pollutants in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, comes from the air.
CBF Litigation Staff Attorney Brittany Wright released this statement about the D.C. Circuit Court’s decision:
“This is a huge win for fighting climate change and protecting air quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and around the country.
“The court’s finding that the ACE rule was “arbitrary and capricious” also confirms what CBF and other environmental and public health advocates have said not only about the ACE rule, but about the administration’s entire deregulatory agenda. The administration has a long record of ignoring science, steamrolling administrative procedure, and issuing rules that are contrary to the fundamental intent of our nation’s bedrock environmental laws.
“Most importantly, this decision gives the incoming Biden administration the opportunity to craft a robust replacement rule that will aggressively reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. CBF urges the new administration to seize this opportunity and stands ready to assist in any way we can.”