CLIMATE CHANGE

ELPC Joins Coalition Suing to Overturn Trump Administration’s Misguided Affordable Clean Energy Rule

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Paul Dailing, (312) 795-3701, pdailing@elpc.org

Environmental Law & Policy Center Joins Coalition Suing to Overturn Trump Administration’s Misguided Affordable Clean Energy Rule

Trump plan doesn’t address climate change by reducing carbon pollution from coal plants

STATEMENT BY HOWARD A. LEARNER

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ENVIRONMENTAL LAW & POLICY CENTER

The Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) today joined a coalition of public interest environmental groups asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to overturn the Trump Administration’s Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule, which replaces the Obama-era Clean Power Plan with a plan that fails to comply with the Clean Air Act and urgent need to reduce carbon pollution from coal plants. ELPC Executive Director Howard A. Learner said:

“The Trump Administration’s ACE Rule is misguided policy, moves our nation backward in solving climate change problems, and misses opportunities for economic growth and innovation in the global shift to renewable energy,” Learner said. “The Environmental Law & Policy Center is joining in challenging the ACE rule because it’s on the wrong side of history and we owe it to future generations to keep our country on track to a cleaner, smarter future.”

The groups filed a petition requesting the appeals court to review and overturn the Trump Administration’s EPA ACE rule. The groups include ELPC, Appalachian Mountain Club, Center for Biological Diversity, Clean Air Council, Clean Wisconsin, Conservation Law Foundation, Environmental Defense Fund, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Natural Resources Defense Council and Sierra Club.

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Rejecting President Trump’s Claims of Protecting the Environment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Judith Nemes, 312-795-3706, jnemes@elpc.org

Environmental Law & Policy Center Rejects President Trump’s Claims of Protecting the Environment    

“The Trump administration’s anti-environmental policies are moving the Midwest backwards not forwards”

STATEMENT BY HOWARD A. LEARNER

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ENVIRONMENTAL LAW & POLICY CENTER

ELPC Executive Director Howard Learner said in response to President Trump’s remarks today attempting to defend his environmental record at a White House gathering:

“President Trump’s damaging attacks on clean water stand in stark contrast to any claims of protecting the Great Lakes. The visible toxic algae blooms and green slime plaguing Lake Erie and other waterways in recent years are visual evidence that the Trump administration’s anti-environmental policies are moving the Midwest backwards not forwards. His administration tried to eliminate or slash the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative three times from the federal budget, but it was reinstated after bipartisan pushback from Great Lakes leaders in Congress.”

“The Midwest is experiencing the impacts of climate change now. The Trump administration’s rollbacks of protections necessary to address the climate crisis threaten Midwesterners and the Great Lakes which millions depend on for safe drinking water, recreation and tourism, and economic opportunities. President Trump’s desperate effort to tell a story about his environmental record at a White House gathering does not erase his ongoing war on the Great Lakes.”

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Illinois Solar for All Program launch

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                            

Contacts:
Little Village Environmental Justice Organization: Juliana Pino, (312) 344-3143, JPino@lvejo.org
Environmental Law & Policy Center: Judith Nemes, (312) 795-3706, JNemes@elpc.org
Blacks in Green: Naomi Davis, (773) 678-9541, NaomiDavis@blacksingreen.org
Illinois People’s Action:  Dawn Dannenbring, (309) 531-4433, ILPeoplesAction12@gmail.com

 Illinois Solar for All Program Launches to Bring Affordable Renewable Energy to Low-income Households and Environmental Justice Communities across the State

Solar projects will tap job training programs to boost opportunities for new trainees

Today, the Illinois Solar for All Program officially opens for business to promote new solar projects serving low-income and environmental justice communities throughout Illinois. An important element of the program focuses on solar developers coordinating with job training programs to expand the workforce in the renewable energy industry to include individuals who are or were foster children or persons with a record who are transitioning.

The program was created as part of the Future Energy Jobs Act, which was passed by the Illinois legislature in December 2016 to increase solar energy jobs and renewable development projects across Illinois, among other objectives. Funding for the first two years of the program is set at $30 million per year, which will be used to purchase Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) from new low-income solar projects.

The Illinois Power Agency was tasked with implementing the program and it has hired Chicago-based Elevate Energy as the program administrator. The Illinois Solar for All Program has a number of sub-programs for low-income and environmental justice communities, including ones for rooftop solar, community solar projects, and solar projects for non-profits and public facilities located in and serving those communities.

“Illinois Solar for All brings unprecedented opportunities for communities on the frontlines of environmental harms and climate change consequences to lead just transition through adoption of renewable energy and its associated economic justice and cleaner air benefits,” said Juliana Pino, policy director at the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization. “Dozens of members of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition and Illinois Solar for All Working Group—from private solar companies to community leaders—worked diligently to create and support the program. Now, importantly, lower electric bills and career opportunities for persons with a record and foster care alumni will be prioritized where they are needed most.”

“The Environmental Law & Policy Center is proud to help establish one of the most comprehensive statewide programs in the country that drives solar development to low-income and environmental justice communities,” said MeLena Hessel, policy advocate at the Environmental Law & Policy Center.

“Jobs with strong wages and future growth are essential to stabilization in my community. Illinois Solar for All job training and hiring requirements create an important win for those too often left out of emerging economies,” said Naomi Davis, founder of Blacks in Green. “The quality of the job training is first class, and some graduates are even experiencing multiple offers from solar vendors. I’m so pleased the hard work of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition has produced a program with such dynamic, built-in connections between employers, trainers, and candidates. This structure ensures that economic opportunities flow more equitably in the clean energy pipeline.”

“Illinois Solar for All programs give hope and dignity to the least among us,” said Rev. Tony Pierce, Board President of Illinois People’s Action, and his church is a member of the Peoria job training program preparing persons with a record for careers in the industry. “Our communities have long been left out of the Green Energy Economy and these programs begin to address those disparities.”

Training sessions will be scheduled for approved solar developers to walk them through the details of the project submission process.

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Check out more of ELPC’s work with Solar development and Clean Energy here.

ELPC Statement Applauding U.S. House of Representatives’ Passage of Legislation to Combat Climate Change, First in a Decade

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Judith Nemes, (773)-892-7494, jnemes@elpc.org

ELPC Statement Applauding U.S. House of Representatives’ Passage of Legislation to Combat Climate Change, First in a Decade

Statement by Howard A. Learner, Executive Director, Environmental Law & Policy Center 

“We are pleased that the U.S. House of Representatives today has taken an important step forward in combating climate change by passing the Climate Action Now Act,” said Howard Learner, Executive Director at the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “We are thankful to members of the Midwest delegation who stepped up and voted yes on The Climate Action Now Act.”

“The Midwest delegation in the U.S. Congress understands the vital need for the federal government to honor its commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement and for the U.S. to be a leader on climate change solutions. For the first time in 10 years, today’s vote in the House moves us in the right direction on climate change and for a better future.”

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New Report From Leading Midwest University Scientists Warns of Dangers to Great Lakes and Regional Economy from Climate Change

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Jordan Troy, 312-573-5468

New Report From Leading Midwest University Scientists Warns of Dangers to Great Lakes and Regional Economy from Climate Change

Report documents impacts on water quality, health, infrastructure, agriculture and tourism

On the heels of global and national reports documenting the profound effects of climate change, more than a dozen leading scientists and experts from Midwestern U.S. and Canadian universities and research institutions released a comprehensive report highlighting the climate change impacts on the Great Lakes region.

This report provides an updated comprehensive picture and explanations of the ways that climate change is harming the lakes themselves, and what these changes mean for public health, infrastructure, fish and wildlife, and the regional economy.

The ambitious report, the first of its kind, was commissioned pro-bono by the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) in concert with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs (CCGA) to educate policymakers and the public about the significant changes affecting the Great Lakes, and the vital importance of taking actions now to protect our natural resources.

“Climate change is seriously jeopardizing the Great Lakes, where millions of people live, work and play,” said Howard Learner, President and Executive Director of ELPC. “The Trump Administration’s failure to recognize sound science and climate realities is unacceptable and dangerous. We need to act now to advance positive renewable energy development, clean transportation, and agricultural pollution reduction solutions to protect our lakes from severe consequences for public health, land use, and economies in our Great Lakes region.”

Roughly 34 million people rely on the Great Lakes for drinking water, jobs, recreation and more, including 8 percent of the U.S. population and 32 percent of Canada’s.

Don Wuebbles, the Harry E. Preble Professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Illinois and former Assistant Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy under President Obama, oversaw the study and served as lead author.

“Over the last two centuries, the Great Lakes have been significantly impacted by human activity, and climate change is now adding more challenges and another layer of stress,” said Wuebbles “This report paints a stark picture of changes in store for the lakes as a result of our changing climate.”

The report highlights wide-ranging impacts, from weather changes to water quality, ecology to infrastructure, public health, land value and economic impact on industries as far-reaching as agriculture, tourism, and transportation and shipping.

Among the key findings:

  • Great Lakes states should prepare for the likelihood of more extreme weather events: more flooding early in the year; more heat waves and drought in hotter months; an overall decrease in snowfall and snow cover, but more lake-effect snowstorms of significant magnitude.
  • Drinking water from the lakes will be impacted. Warming trends have already increased bacteria levels in the lakes, and changes to the lakes’ ecosystems will increase the number and severity of algae blooms which leave water unsafe to drink. Both bacteria and algae blooms dramatically increase the costs of water treatment, and can make water unsafe for swimming.
  • Agriculture in the Great Lakes basin will see significant impacts. Changes in seasonal precipitation are already affecting farmers in Midwestern states, with planting delays caused by spring flooding and excessively wet soil. Delayed planting puts crops at greater risk during hotter and drier conditions later in the growing season. This increases the demand for irrigation to mitigate crop losses. Even with increased water management, it is projected that crop yields for both soybean and corn will decrease by 10%-30% by the end of the century.
  • Beaches, dunes and shorelines will be more vulnerable to coastal erosion as a result of changing weather patterns and the increased incidence of severe storm events.

The report provides examples of the human and economic impacts of extreme weather. It states that the 2012 Midwestern heat wave and drought caused more than $30 billion in economic damage, 123 direct deaths, and contributed to considerable long-term health impacts across most of the central and western U.S.

ELPC plans to share the report with state officials and state assemblies across the Great Lakes region, and urge them to adopt new policies to reduce greenhouse gases and other pollutants that damage the Great Lakes and contribute to global warming. Among the changes ELPC is seeking:

  • Advancing renewable solar, storage and wind energy development to create jobs and spur economic growth while avoiding carbon pollution.
  • Improving energy efficiency, which saves residential and business consumers money on their utility bills, creates new installation and retrofit jobs, and keeps energy dollars in the Great Lakes region instead of draining energy dollars to places where more coal, natural gas and uranium are mined.
  • Investing in accelerating clean electric vehicles and modern higher-speed rail and transit to avoid carbon pollution, position the region for the transportation industry jobs of the future, and achieve healthier cleaner air for all.
  • Reducing agricultural runoff of phosphorus pollution from manure and excess fertilizer, to reduce harmful algae blooms that are exacerbated by climate change and threaten drinking water, fisheries and outdoor recreation in western Lake Erie, Green Bay and other shallow bays.
  • Restoring the full proposed $475 million of annual federal funding for the successful Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which will help enable protection of fisheries, shorelines and wetlands, and reduction of nutrient pollution that causes harmful algae blooms, as well clean up toxic sediments and help avoid invasive species such as Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes.

“Without urgent action, climate change will have profound consequences for our communities, economy, and way of life in the Great Lakes region” said Michael Tiboris, Global Water Fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. “But adopting clean energy policies and protecting water quality can mitigate these impacts, while creating new jobs and other benefits for state economies.”

Scientists and experts who contributed to the report include:

  • Donald Wuebbles, University of Illinois
  • Bradley Cardinale, University of Michigan
  • Keith Cherkauer, Purdue University
  • Robin Davidson-Arnott, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada
  • Jessica Hellmann, University of Minnesota
  • Dana Infante, Michigan State University
  • Lucinda Johnson, University of Minnesota, Duluth
  • Rob de Loë, University of Waterloo, Ontario Canada
  • Brent Lofgren, NOAA GLERL
  • Aaron Packman, Northwestern University
  • Frank Seglenieks, Environment and Climate Change Canada
  • Ashish Sharma, University of Notre Dameand University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Brent Sohngen, The Ohio State University
  • Michael Tiboris, Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Dan Vimont, University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Robyn Wilson, The Ohio State University
  • Ken Kunkel, North Carolina State University and NOAA CICS-NC
  • Andrew Ballinger, North Carolina State University and NOAA CICS-NC

EPA’s Proposed Weakening of Mercury Pollution Reduction Standards (MATS) Threatens Children’s and Women’s Health, and Great Lakes Fisheries

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Judith Nemes, 773-892-7494, JNemes@elpc.org

Environmental Protection Agency’s Proposed Weakening of Mercury Pollution Reduction Standards (MATS) Threatens Children’s and Women’s Health, and Great Lakes Fisheries

STATEMENT BY HOWARD A. LEARNER

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ENVIRONMENTAL LAW & POLICY CENTER

“The Trump EPA’s proposal to weaken mercury and air toxics pollution reduction standards threatens children’s health and the Great Lakes. State public health officials continue to issue ‘mercury advisories’ warning people, especially young children and pregnant women, to limit their intake of fish from most of the Great Lakes and inland lakes in the Midwest. Sadly, it’s not safe for many people to eat the fish that they catch in the Great Lakes.

The Trump EPA’s proposal undermines MATS by retroactively recalculating the costs and benefits of the rule, which most utilities have already fully implemented. The misguided proposed changes leave MATS legally vulnerable and foolishly make it harder to strengthen mercury pollution reduction standards in the future to better protect children’s and women’s health, and Great Lakes fisheries.

Mercury is a known neurotoxin that impairs fetal brain development when it gets into pregnant women’s bloodstreams and crosses the placental barrier. Most coal plants have already installed pollution control systems for mercury in response to the MATS rule that the U.S. EPA issued in 2011. The U.S. EPA should not reverse course and loosen the way co-benefits are analyzed in the future that could lead to softening future standards. Coal plants’ owners should continue to install and operate modern pollution control equipment to reduce mercury and other toxic air pollution. These are common sense safeguards.

The Trump EPA’s rollback skews the regulatory benefit-cost analysis by excluding the important real world co-benefits of reducing pollutants that harm public health and the environment. This flies in the face of sound benefit-cost analysis, and it comes at the expense of our children’s health.

The Trump EPA should not lose sight of its core mission, which includes protecting the public’s health from mercury and other dangerous air toxics.”

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PRESS RELEASE: US EPA’s Repeat Midterm Review of Clean Car Standards is Misguided and Flawed

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                             Contact: Judith Nemes

April 2, 2018                                                                           (312) 795-3706

JNemes@elpc.org

US EPA’s Repeat Midterm Review of Clean Car Standards is Misguided and Flawed

Keeping the common sense clean car standards will save people money at the gas pump, reduce  pollution, and advance America’s technological innovation leadership and global competitiveness

STATEMENT BY HOWARD A. LEARNER

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ENVIRONMENTAL LAW & POLICY CENTER

 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that its pollution reduction standards for vehicle Model Years 2022-2025 in coordination with U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) fuel economy standards are no longer “appropriate.” In response, ELPC Executive Director Howard Learner said:

“The EPA’s misguided decision threatens to shift America into reverse and put U.S. automakers behind in the global competition for cleaner, more fuel efficient cars. The standards that EPA and DOT issued in 2012 were grounded in extensive analysis and remain sound.

“Weakening the standards will undermine innovation and the American auto industry’s competitiveness, stall job creation in the Midwest and lead to more trips to the gas pump for many Americans. The Pruitt EPA should have confirmed the work that US EPA completed in 2017 and move forward with US DOT to ensure that standards stay strong through 2025.”

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ClimateWire: Midwest Went From a Climate Leader to a Trump Bulwark

Midwest Went From a Climate Leader to a Trump Bulwark

By Benjamin Storrow

Climate hawks thought they’d scored a major victory in 2007 when six Midwestern states and the Canadian province of Manitoba agreed to an economywide carbon cap-and-trade program. It was seen by many as a precursor to federal action.

More than a decade later, the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord has come to represent just the opposite.

Cap and trade failed in Congress and was never implemented in the Midwest. Onetime Republican boosters, like former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, recanted their support. Instead of implementing a regional emissions reduction program, Republican lawmakers and governors elected in the GOP wave of 2010 went on to fight the Clean Power Plan, former President Obama’s initiative to curb carbon emissions from power plants.

Even former supporters admit the idea of a Midwestern cap-and-trade program now seems far-fetched.

“I think we’re probably a long way of getting back to that point,” said former Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat who led efforts to implement the regional climate program.

The Midwest’s reversal on cap and trade demonstrates the wider challenges facing U.S. climate hawks. While states on the East and West coasts seek to take up the mantle of climate action during the Trump administration, plans for curbing emissions in the Midwest are notably scarce. Minnesota is the only Midwestern member of the U.S. Climate Alliance, a coalition of 16 states and Puerto Rico seeking to meet the targets of the Paris climate accord. (It is also the only state in the country that requires utilities to estimate the damage of carbon pollution.)

Yet the Midwest represents a large slice of America’s emissions pie. Coal and manufacturing, while diminished, remain crucial cogs in the region’s economy and major emitters of greenhouse gases. Four of America’s top 10 carbon-emitting states hailed from the region in 2015, according to the most recent federal figures.

Politics explain much of the region’s climate complacency.

“All the governors, except Gov. [Mark] Dayton in Minnesota, are all Republicans who appear to be caught up in the wave of denying climate realities and climate action,” said Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center in Chicago.

It wasn’t always that way. Carbon reduction strategies like cap and trade once enjoyed broad bipartisan appeal. Two Republican governors, George Pataki of New York and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, spearheaded the creation of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cap-and-trade program covering the power sector in 10 Northeastern states. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) endorsed the idea during his 2008 presidential campaign. When Doyle proposed the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord, one of his chief allies was Pawlenty.

The idea was an extension of efforts to curtail acid rain decades earlier, when emission trading programs for pollutants like nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide were incorporated into the Clean Air Act.

“Everyone acted like it was some big, new idea,” Doyle said. “It didn’t seem that different from sulphur dioxide or nitrogen oxide.”

A combination of political and economic factors ultimately eroded Republican support for the idea. The recession hit, hollowing out the Midwest’s industrial base. Political leaders from both parties became apprehensive about any measure that could increase electricity costs and hamper the region’s recovery. At the same time, fossil fuel interests pumped money into Republican campaigns, promoting the idea that climate change was a hoax and stoking fears about government overreach.

“They’ve definitely poisoned the well in the short term,” Doyle said.

Another motivating factor also disappeared: the prospects for federal action. Much of the support for the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord was premised on the idea that it was merely a precursor for federal action, said Doug Scott, who took part in the negotiations as director of the Illinois EPA.

“One of the goals was, if we think this is coming, we can try and devise a state program,” said Scott, now the vice president for strategic initiatives at the Great Plains Institute.

Instead, cap and trade died in Congress and Democrats endured a shellacking at the ballot box in 2010. In the Midwest, Doyle retired, then-Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm was term-limited and former Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius went to Washington to serve in the Obama administration. Her successor, Mark Parkinson, was defeated in 2010, as was Iowa Gov. Chet Culver. Rod Blagojevich, Illinois’ governor, soon became ensnared in a corruption scandal, and Democrats lost control of the corner office in Springfield to Republican Bruce Rauner in 2014.

Pawlenty, for his part, renounced his support for cap and trade as part of an unsuccessful presidential bid in 2012, calling the idea “ham-fisted” and “misguided.”

“I would argue that one of the other things that limited the MGGRA and a lot of state climate policy is that the embrace was largely by an individual governor,” said Barry Rabe, a professor of public policy at the University of Michigan. “There wasn’t the resiliency or the durability of a Legislature really engaging.”

If the region has taken a step back on the political front, climate hawks are quick to point out a change in attitude among Midwestern utilities. Power companies across the region have continued to close coal plants and embrace renewables, even after President Trump took office.

The two largest utilities in Michigan have pledged to cut carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050, largely by shuttering coal plants. In November, We Energies announced plans to shut its Pleasant Prairie coal-fired power plant outside Kenosha, Wis., and bring 350 megawatts of solar online.

Wind now accounts for 36 percent of Iowa’s electricity generation and almost 30 percent of Kansas’ power production, according to industry statistics. Minnesota-based Xcel Energy Inc. expects wind will generate the majority of its electricity across the utility’s eight-state service territory by 2021.

Those trends have produced a drop in carbon emissions. Estimates by the Environmental Law and Policy Center show that Illinois is 81 percent of the way toward meeting its targets under the Clean Power Plan, even though the regulation was killed by the Trump administration. In Michigan, the group estimates that figure is 91 percent.

It could also herald a political change. Arguing for renewables is easier when the costs of wind and solar are on the decline, greens said.

“The market forces are pretty compelling now,” said Stanley “Skip” Pruss, who led Michigan’s Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth under Granholm. “With the absence of political leadership, we need to harness and leverage the business community to make them advocates for clean energy. That is our best vehicle moving forward.”

Still, political leadership matters, which is why Pruss and other greens look longingly toward a series of competitive gubernatorial races in the Midwest this year.

But even those races illustrate the region’s evolving position on climate. Renewables have a broad base of political support because they provide local economic benefits in addition to cutting pollution, greens said. While opposition over siting remains, many said they expect Democratic candidates to promote renewables as a chance to foster a homegrown energy industry in a region where fossil fuel extraction is scarce.

As for mentions of cap and trade on the campaign stump? Don’t bet on hearing many.

“The policy experts acknowledge that putting a price on carbon is one of the most efficient ways to make the transition to renewables faster,” said Kate Madigan, deputy policy director for the Michigan Environmental Council. “I don’t know if it’s something that people who don’t think about climate change all the time follow.”

 

ELPC Joins Environmental Advocacy Groups Call for Pruitt’s Recusal from Clean Power Plan Rulemaking Process

(Washington, D.C. – January 29, 2018) Environmental and legal advocates today submitted a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calling for EPA to withdraw the proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan and for Administrator Scott Pruitt to recuse himself from any further Clean Power Plan proceedings.

Environmental Law & Policy Center together with a coalition including the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the Center for Biological Diversity, Conservation Law Foundation, Earthjustice, Sierra Club, and Union of Concerned Scientists sent the letter, which lists evidence that shows Pruitt has predetermined the outcome of the process:

“Administrator Pruitt’s comments about the Clean Power Plan make it clear that the deck is stacked and, unfortunately, his mind is closed,” said Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “Fortunately, federal clean air standards can’t be arbitrarily repealed, but require rigorous, impartial analysis and a decision maker with an open mind who has the interests of all Americans at heart. Administrator Pruitt’s mind appears unalterably closed in this case, and he should be recused from this EPA decision.”

The Clean Power Plan — America’s only nationwide limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants — is the most significant step our nation has taken to tackle dangerous climate change. Once fully implemented, the Clean Power Plan would prevent up to 4,500 premature deaths a year, according to a recent analysis issued by Pruitt’s EPA.

On October 16, 2017, EPA released a proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan. If finalized, a repeal would leave the U.S. unprotected from our largest stationary source of carbon pollution — even as the urgent threat of climate change becomes ever clearer.

“As the letter documents, Administrator Pruitt’s statements reveal a firmly closed mind on the Clean Power Plan; he has described the CPP’s repeal in ways flatly incompatible with the Clean Air Act’s requirements for a meaningful public process before a final decision is made,” said Sean H. Donahue, counsel for EDF.

The Due Process Clause forbids an official from presiding over a rulemaking when the official has an “unalterably closed mind” about the subject matter, and the Clean Air Act requires a transparent rulemaking process where a final decision is issued only after careful consideration of the law, science, and public comments.

“Scott Pruitt’s tenure as EPA administrator is rife with conflicts of interest. As Oklahoma attorney general, he played a leading role in litigating the EPA’s Clean Power Plan on behalf of his fossil fuel industry campaign contributors. He cannot serve in the conflicting roles of lawyer for one side, judge and jury, and executioner of the Clean Power Plan,” said Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists. “It is a clear violation of law for Scott Pruitt to participate in this matter, and it deprives the American public of an open-minded decisionmaker. If Administrator Pruitt really wants to keep his promise to restore ’the rule of law’ at the EPA, he must recuse himself immediately.”

Administrator Pruitt has also publicly repudiated the legal authority for the Clean Power Plan and described the rulemaking process in ways that make clear that he has no intention of considering options other than repeal.

The groups’ letter says Pruitt “has departed egregiously from constitutional and statutory norms meant to protect the public’s ability meaningfully to participate in rulemakings and safeguard the integrity of the administrative process.”

“Pruitt was dancing on the grave of the Clean Power Plan before the rulemaking process had even begun,” said Vera Pardee, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s clear Pruitt is hell-bent on killing this crucial climate protection for his friends in the fossil fuel industry, no matter how many lives the rule would save.”

“Scott Pruitt is not fit to participate in any rulemaking process to withdraw the Clean Power Plan. His shrill and steadfast hostility to this critical climate safeguard, as well as his cozy ties to corporate polluters, make clear that he cannot be an impartial decision maker in these matters,” said Joanne Spalding, Deputy Legal Director and Chief Climate Counsel for Sierra Club. “The law therefore requires his recusal from EPA’s misbegotten effort to rescind the Clean Power Plan, and we call upon him to step aside immediately.”

Numerous states have also called on Pruitt to recuse himself from the Clean Power Plan repeal rulemaking and for the current proposal to be withdrawn.

WBEZ Worldview: Howard Learner discusses what cities can do to fight climate change

“New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio authorized a lawsuit against five major oil companies yesterday, hoping to recoup the costs imposed on the city by climate change. In 2012 New York’s streets and subways flooded during Hurricane Sandy, and rising sea levels have strained ocean infrastructure around the city.

‘Sandy taught us how destructive weather events exacerbated by climate change can be,’ a statement from de Blasio’s office said. The city is also divesting pension funds from the fossil fuel industry.

While climate change’s acute effects like rising sea levels aren’t as immediately threatening to Chicago, we’re going to see what the city can do to fight climate change with Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center. We’ll also discuss President Trump’s statements yesterday on U.S. dependence on fossil fuels.”

Click Here to listen to the full segment. 

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