Many states have already started the work to limit carbon pollution from power plants under the Clean Power Plan. Limits on power plant carbon pollution will help shield communities from destructive climate change. And businesses know that clean energy (energy efficiency and renewable energy) creates jobs and will save Americans money on monthly electric bills. Many utilities have acknowledged that economic forces are moving us to clean energy and see the Clean Power Plan as a source of certainty for their next steps.
Yet even as states move ahead, a new flurry of attacks is starting, triggered by the formal publication of the Clean Power Plan in the Federal Register. Luckily for all of us, these attacks will not succeed. The Clean Power Plan has momentum. Not only does climate action makes economic sense, the Clean Power Plan is on strong legal footing and it has the support of the majority of Americans.
Climate action is necessary. An attack on the Clean Power Plan is an attack on American businesses and communities. Too many people are in harm's way already. This summer hundreds of homes and businesses burned to the ground in Washington State's record-breaking fires. Twenty people died in flash floods in Utah last month. And two September storms dumped 8 inches of rain each on Northeastern communities. This is what climate change looks like in America.
The Clean Power Plan will reduce these threats and put our communities on a healthier path.
Oil, gas and coal companies want to head in the opposite direction. They don't want to be held accountable for their pollution, and so they have spent billions of dollars in the past few years to elect and influence lawmakers who attack climate action. And many of those lawmakers don't seem to understand that they are and will continue to be held accountable as communities across American suffer from the effects of climate change including droughts, violent storms, floods, damage to our shellfish and sea level rise.
The Clean Power Plan was released by President Obama back in early August. The formal publication marks the start of a 60-day period in which the plan is subject to review under the Congressional Review Act. It also paves the way for another round of industry lawsuits-- previous rounds were dismissed as premature because they pre-dated the plan's official publication.
Fossil fuel companies and their GOP allies will use this opening to move us backwards. Here are some reasons why the Clean Power Plan will move forward despite these efforts to halt progress.
In Congress: Republicans Don't Have the Votes
Some GOP lawmakers will try to block the Clean Power Plan using the Congressional Review Act. However, Congress has voted down only one safeguard since the act was passed in 1996, and Republicans won't succeed in adding the Clean Power Plan to that short list. President Obama has said that he will veto any bill that thwarts the plan, and with the many members of Congress who are standing strong on climate action, those who attack the Clean Power Plan don't have the votes to override the veto.
In Court: The Clean Power Plan Rests on Firm Legal Footing
The fossil fuel industry and a group of state attorneys general are challenging the Clean Power Plan in court. Some will claim the plan violates the U.S. Constitution, but previous constitutional challenges to Clean Air Act standards failed, and this will too. And some will say the EPA can't look "beyond the fence line" of coal plants when setting carbon limits, but the Clean Air Act authorizes the EPA to consider clean energy solutions such as wind and solar power. The EPA has an excellent track record in court, and these and other legal attacks are likely to lose.
In States: Most Are Preparing to Implement the Plan
From Oregon to Arizona to Virginia, most states are already designing implement plans to meet the Clean Power Plan. They know these plans will deliver major benefits especially when they rely on energy efficiency and renewable energy. In Pennsylvania, for example, a strong state plan would save local businesses at least $241 million on energy bills in 2020 and attract an additional $17 billion in investment for local clean energy projects. Only a few outlier states have followed Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's advice to "just say no" to the EPA. And even some states--such as Michigan and Colorado--that will sue the EPA are intending to draft state plans at the same time.
In Public Opinion: Most Americans Support Limits on Carbon Pollution
Poll after poll after poll confirms that the vast majority of Americans want leaders to tackle the climate threat. One survey conducted by Yale and George Mason Universities found that 70 percent of Americans support strict limits on carbon pollution from power plants. And a recent survey by leading GOP pollsters found 56 percent of Republicans believe in climate change and the vast majority support clean energy solutions. Lawmakers who try to obstruct climate action may win approval from polluting industries, but they do not represent the public interest. Most Americans want to honor our obligation to protect future generations from unchecked climate change. The Clean Power Plan will help us do it.
Take action to support the Clean Power Plan here.