Why I Requested a Formal Investigation of EPA

This week in Charleston, West Virginia, the EPA held a public hearing on its proposal to repeal America’s Clean Power Plan, which places first-ever limits on climate-warming carbon pollution from power plants.

Scores of supporters of America’s Clean Power Plan streamed into Charleston to denounce EPA’s reckless rollback, including Moms Clean Air Force representatives from West Virginia, Ohio, Tennessee, Illinois, Florida, North Carolina, and New Jersey.

But even as their collective testimony showed deep support for limiting carbon pollution from power plants, thousands more were shut out of the process.

EPA has scheduled one, and only one, public hearing on its decision to reverse America’s Clean Power Plan. This single hearing is a stark departure from past practice. When EPA issued America’s Clean Power Plan, the agency held eleven public listening sessions to gather input prior to the proposal, followed by four public hearings in diverse cities across America.

This week’s single hearing is such an extreme departure from past practice, in fact, that I filed a formal complaint with EPA’s Office of the Inspector General, urging the investigative arm of the agency to investigate this possible abuse of power.

The complaint reads, in part:

“The public can have no confidence in EPA actions where it appears that opposing voices are being suppressed. The West Virginia public hearing for the Clean Power Plan rollback, in the heart of coal country, indicates an intention to meaningfully engage only those stakeholders who favor the Clean Power Plan’s repeal. In the absence of other public hearings in other places, this creates a strong impression that the rulemaking is being conducted in a biased manner, with a particular outcome predetermined.

“The rulemaking process depends on the core assumption that EPA will solicit and consider varied public input. The decision to exclude so many communities from public hearings on a critical rulemaking amounts to an effort to eliminate or suppress particular communities from participating. It amounts to favoring certain voices over others.

“The repeal of the Clean Power Plan will have significant impacts on human health and the environment. Without knowing for certain that EPA is impartially considering all relevant information and viewpoints, the public cannot have confidence that EPA’s leadership is working on their behalf. This raises serious questions about potential abuse of EPA’s authority that serves a select group of interests instead of the greater public welfare.”

EPA has received multiple requests for public hearings to be held in locations that would give supporters of the Clean Power Plan the opportunity to speak out against the rollback this rule. Requests for additional hearings have been submitted to EPA from eight states and five cities, representing millions of Americans, including:

  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Boulder, Colorado
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • New York, New York
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • South Miami, Florida

The decision to hold a single public hearing in the heart of coal country closes the door to participation from stakeholders who have been heavily impacted by climate change. It is grossly deficient for a decision that would harm Americans in every state for generations to come. And it introduces bias, suppression, favoritism, and mistrust into a process that is intended to be inclusive and transparent.

Written testimony will be accepted into the public docket until January 16. Please show your support for America’s Clean Power Plan by submitting a written comment.

This post originally appeared on momscleanairforce.org

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