U.S. federal court strikes down Trump climate rollback, saying administration acted illegally

Joanna Estrada
January 21, 2021

The changes finalized Monday, Aug. 31, 2020, will allow utilities to use cheaper wastewater cleanup technologies and take longer to comply with pollution reduction guidelines adopted in 2015.

A federal appeals court this morning struck down the Trump administration's Clean Power Plan replacement. The decision is likely to give the incoming Biden administration a freer hand to regulate emissions from power plants, one of the major sources of climate-damaging fossil fuel emissions.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit unanimously chose to toss the Environmental Protection Agency's Affordable Clean Energy rule, which constrained how carbon emissions from power plants are regulated, and remanded it to the agency, which will prioritize climate change under the incoming Biden administration.

"The question in this case is whether the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acted lawfully in adopting the 2019 Affordable Clean Energy Rule (ACE Rule), as a means of regulating power plants' emissions of greenhouse gases".

"The decision risks injecting more uncertainty at a time when the nation needs regulatory stability", Block said.

The decision to strike down the rule was made by a three-judge panel comprised of two Democratic appointees and one Trump-appointed judge.

This ruling affirms what we've said all along - the "Affordable Clean Energy" rule did nothing to promote clean energy, and was not affordable for American consumers.

The court decision effectively ends the EPA's efforts to weaken U.S. climate change policies, after the Trump Administration brought the USA out of the Paris climate agreement.

The ACE rule replaced the Obama administration's 2015 Clean Power Plan (CPP)-which aimed for a 30-percent reduction in power plant carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 by requiring states to implement individualized plans. It offered undeveloped reasons of administrative convenience and regulatory symmetry, even as it ignored the environmental and public health effects of the Rule's compliance slowdown. The Trump administration has sought to cut regulation overall, calling much of it unnecessary and a burden to business.

Proponents of the Obama-era rule have said they do not wish to revive the Clean Power Plan and instead want EPA to redraft an updated standard. The Trump administration's rule would have prolonged the life of highly pollutive coal-fired power plants indefinitely.

Market forces have continued the United States coal industry's decline, however, despite those and other moves by Trump on the industry's behalf.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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