Press Releases

President Trump’s BLM Gutting Methane Standards Move is Wasteful, Misguided, and Unpopular


Contact: David Jakubiak

President Trump’s Bureau of Land Management Gutting Methane Standards Move is Wasteful, Misguided, and Unpopular

Statement by Howard A. Learner

Executive Director, Environmental Law & Policy Center

“President Trump’s Bureau of Land Management is gutting the standards designed to reduce wasteful flaring of methane. That misguided action hurts people, wastes a resource and adds pollution. In a poll last year, 60% of North Dakota Republicans and 59% of independents supported strong standards to reduce flaring in federal and tribal lands. That’s common sense. An estimated $76 million in natural gas is flared annually on North Dakota’s public and tribal lands. Instead of wasting that resource, we should be advancing use of innovative technologies to reduce waste, keeping jobs and money in the state.”

BREAKING: ELPC Joins EDF, OEC Ask Ohio Supreme Court to Block FirstEnergy Bailout


December 1, 2017




Groups Challenge FirstEnergy Bailout at Ohio Supreme Court
Joint statement from EDF, OEC and ELPC

COLUMBUS –  The Ohio Environmental Council, Environmental Defense Fund, and Environmental Law & Policy Center today appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio’s (PUCO) bailout for utility giant FirstEnergy. Last year, the PUCO approved a plan to provide FirstEnergy with more than $600 million over a three-year period in no-strings-attached subsidies for its uneconomic coal and nuclear plants.

Since the PUCO’s ruling Ohioans have already paid over $120 million of the $600 million bailout to FirstEnergy. While FirstEnergy will keep the money they’ve already collected even if the Supreme Court overturns the PUCO’s ruling, we are filing our appeal to the Supreme Court to protect Ohio ratepayers from further unjustified bailout payments.

“Last year, when Ohio regulators tried to hand FirstEnergy $4 billion to keep its outdated, uneconomic power plants operating, federal regulators came to the rescue and blocked the deal. But the utility giant is relentless and devised a new bailout plea that didn’t require federal oversight, which state regulators quickly rubber-stamped. We are confident the Ohio Supreme Court will recognize Ohioans should not be responsible for FirstEnergy’s bad business decisions, and overturn the $600 million bailout.”

  • Dick Munson, Midwest Policy Director, Clean Energy, Environmental Defense Fund

“With an abundance of renewable energy opportunity in the Buckeye State, it doesn’t make sense that our state regulators agreed to raise Ohioans’ electric bills to subsidize plants that are old and expensive. These consumer-funded subsidies distort trends in the market that would otherwise be pushing electric utilities to innovate, creating cleaner, more efficient generation options. I’m confident that the Ohio Supreme Court will side with the customers, ensuring a cleaner, prosperous future for all.”

  • Trish Demeter, Vice President of Policy, Ohio Environmental Council

“We are challenging this bailout because it raises electric bills for Ohio families to pay off FirstEnergy’s shareholders, and provides no benefits to customers. Instead of bailing out failing coal plants, we should help lower customer bills and pollution through energy efficiency.”

  • Madeline Fleisher, attorney with the Environmental Law & Policy Center



Environmental Defense Fund (, a leading international nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law, and innovative private-sector partnerships. Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and our Energy Exchange blog. 

Ohio Environmental Council ( The Ohio Environmental Council is the state’s most comprehensive, effective and respected environmental advocate for a healthier, more sustainable Ohio. Our experts work daily to restore, protect, and strengthen the quality of life for families and communities—from the air we breathe and the water we drink to the food we eat and natural resources we enjoy.

Environmental Law & Policy Center ( is the Midwest’s leading public interest environmental legal advocacy organization. We develop strategic campaigns to protect natural resources and improve environmental quality. Our multi-disciplinary staff employs teamwork approaches using legal, economic, and public policy tools to produce successes that improve our environment and economy.


News Release: Michigan Public Service Commission Sets Rates for Clean Energy

For Immediate Release

Michigan Public Service Commission Sets Rates for Clean Energy

Rate Certainty Sets Stage for New Private Investments, Solar Energy Development

LANSING, MI – An order setting rates for renewable energy developers from Consumers Energy will create the certainty necessary to spur private investments and new growth in solar energy while ensuring utility customers’ electricity rates don’t increase.

“The Commission adopted a strong methodology that reflects the value solar provides to Michigan during peak periods,” said Margrethe Kearney, senior staff attorney with the Environmental Law & Policy Center in Grand Rapids, Mich. “This decision makes Michigan more attractive for renewable energy development at no additional cost to ratepayers.”

The Commission adopted new avoided cost rates that Consumers Energy must pay to renewable energy facilities in Michigan for the power those facilities supply to the grid.  This completes Michigan’s first update in 25 years of the approach utilities must take under federal law to compensate the owners of qualified clean energy facilities.

Solar industry officials hailed Wednesday’s announcement saying it can help make Michigan a leader in Midwest solar.

“The Commission correctly recognized the significant long-term value of solar to Michigan, and the need to update old rules to capture that value,” said Rick Umoff, director of state affairs for the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “Solar companies can now ratchet up investment in Michigan’s economy, creating well-paying jobs and providing clean reliable energy to the state.”

Advocates also celebrated the news.

“The Commission’s decision to enable a level playing field for clean energy will launch a new wave of solar development in Michigan,” said Becky Stanfield, senior director of western states at Vote Solar. “Michigan’s leadership demonstrates to regulators and lawmakers across the country how to attract private investments, build a clean energy economy, and create local jobs that can’t be outsourced.”

The Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) was enacted in 1978 to encourage renewable energy development, reduce reliance on fossil fuels, and promote energy independence. It requires utilities to purchase energy from small qualified cogeneration and renewable energy providers and establishes what are known as “avoided costs” and “must-buy prices” that utilities pay to small renewable energy providers. Since its inception, PURPA has spurred more than 16 GW of cumulative capacity across the country.

In June, the Commission established avoided cost calculations based on the costs of energy and capacity from new natural gas facilities, creating an even playing field for independent developers of qualified clean energy projects. The order also simplifies the development and financing process for small projects by establishing 20-year contracts at a standard rate for projects up to 2 megawatts in size. Previously only projects up to 100 kilowatts were eligible.

Read the Commission’s order.


Press Release: EPA Admits Ohio Failed to Evaluate Open Waters of Lake Erie

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                             Contact: Judith Nemes                                                                             

EPA Admits Ohio Failed to Evaluate Open Waters of Lake Erie

 ELPC warns EPA’s reluctance to designate all of Lake Erie impaired endangers drinking water for Ohioans & imperils the environment

Toledo, OH – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency admitted late Friday that it does not believe Ohio EPA fully evaluated pollution in Lake Erie in response to a lawsuit by the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) and co-plaintiffs Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie (ACLE), Susan Matz, and Michael Ferner, that was filed in July. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio in Toledo, seeks a designation of the open waters of the western basin of Lake Erie as “impaired” under the Clean Water Act because periodic harmful algal blooms are preventing those waters from meeting basic state water quality standards.

U.S. EPA’s response to the complaint expressly admits that Ohio EPA did not assess whether these algal blooms are impairing the open waters of Lake Erie, despite the existence of information that the state could have evaluated to determine the status of the open waters.  This is a central allegation by the plaintiffs in their argument that U.S. EPA should have rejected Ohio’s decision not to designate the open waters of the Lake’s western basin as impaired.

“EPA’s response shows that Ohio has no excuse for its failure to recognize the full scope of the effects of harmful algal blooms on Lake Erie,” said Madeline Fleisher, an ELPC senior attorney in Columbus, Ohio. “EPA’s acceptance of Ohio’s decision despite this lapse exemplifies the agency’s unwillingness to take aggressive action to address this problem in Ohio and the Lake Erie region. We expect better from the agencies that are supposed to be leading the way on protecting people and the environment.”

“The Clean Water Act is still the law of the land and we intend to make the EPA do its job to protect our environment, our health and Toledo’s drinking water,” said Mike Ferner, ACLE coordinator.

Algal blooms can produce toxins that make people and pets seriously ill when ingested, and can also harm aquatic species by poisoning water or using up oxygen to create “dead zones” in the lake. The algal blooms are caused by phosphorus pollution that primarily comes from manure and fertilizer running off of agricultural land.

“Without the impairment designation, Ohio is likely to continue relying on unenforceable, voluntary measures to reduce phosphorus pollution that won’t do enough to fix the problem,” said Fleisher



Press Release: Five-year Anniversary of Fuel Economy & Pollution Reduction Standards Affirms Rules Still Sound and Sensible


Five-year Anniversary of Fuel Economy and Pollution Reduction Standards Affirms Rules Still Sound and Sensible

Recent EPA announcement to re-open review of common sense pollution reduction standards could cost people more at the gas pump, increase pollution harming health, and reduce America’s technological innovation leadership and global competitiveness 



Howard Learner, ELPC’s Executive Director, said in connection to the five-year anniversary of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Transportation establishing joint fuel economy and pollution reduction standards for vehicle Model Years 2017-2025:

“Five years ago, the EPA and U.S. Department of Transportation issued fuel economy and pollution reduction standards for American automakers that are still sound and sensible today,” Learner said. “The standards EPA and DOT rolled out in 2012 ensure that America’s new cars and light trucks will use less oil and emit fewer greenhouse gases through 2025.

“Despite the success of Clean Car standards, the Trump administration is working to roll them back. Earlier this year, EPA determined its standards remained achievable and cost effective, but the agency has now taken the misguided step of reopening that review. DOT is also working to weaken its fuel efficiency standards. A rollback of the joint standards threaten to shift America into reverse and put U.S. car manufacturers behind in the global competition for cleaner, fuel efficient cars.

“Keeping the joint standards in place that were set five years ago will continue to drive innovation, maintain the American auto industry’s competitiveness, boost jobs in the Midwest, and save Americans money at the gas pump. Across the Midwest there are more than 150,000 jobs in 480 facilities engaged in making cleaner vehicles. Let’s keep the cleaner car job sector growing.”


PRESS RELEASE: Trump’s Clean Power Plan Repeal & Replace Falls Flat


Judith Nemes, ELPC | 312-795-3706 or
David Miller, Ohio Environmental Council | 614-487-7506 or
Jennifer Caddick, Alliance for the Great Lakes | 312-445-9760 or

Midwest Environmentalists’ Statement: Trump’s Clean Power Plan Repeal & Replace Falls Flat
Clean Energy Economy Moving Forward, Climate Change Solutions Vital

STATEMENT BY HOWARD A. LEARNER, Executive Director, Environmental Law & Policy Center; HEATHER TAYLOR-MIESLE, Executive Director, The Ohio Environmental Council; and JOEL BRAMMEIER, President & CEO, Alliance for the Great Lakes.

Today U.S. EPA proposed to repeal and weaken the Clean Power Plan. This proposal, which will be filed in the Federal Register on Tuesday, would apparently limit the reductions that owners of old coal must make to actions strictly within the “fence line” of the plants. That would result in less pollution reductions and missed opportunities for progress. Below, find statements from Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC); Heather Taylor-Miesle, Executive Director, Ohio Environmental Council; and Joel Brammeier, President & CEO, Alliance for the Great Lakes.

Howard Learner, Executive Director, Environmental Law & Policy Center

“The Trump Administration’s climate action repeal and replace proposal is a public subsidy for old coal plants to emit more pollution. It misses sensible opportunities to boost clean energy and avoid pollution in ways that make economic sense.

“The economics of avoiding carbon pollution through wind power, solar energy and energy efficiency are stronger than ever. Clean energy technology is advancing and moving forward.

“Across the Midwest, ELPC is working with local stakeholders to help create jobs generating clean power while cutting carbon pollution, improve air and water quality, and protect public health and defend the Great Lakes from the growing threats of climate change.

“It’s time for Midwest governors and mayors act and accelerate real climate change solutions. The benefits of the clean, modern economy are too good to pass up and too important to delay even as the Trump Administration bypasses the economic benefits of the clean energy future.”


Heather Taylor-Miesle, Executive Director, Ohio Environmental Council

“With the decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan, the Trump Administration just put the health, safety, and security of all Americans at risk from worsening air pollution as a result of climate change. Keeping the Clean Power Plan makes sense for the environment and the economy. President Trump’s short-sighted decision means we will lose out on a $2.1 billion GDP increase and 20,000 jobs in Ohio.

“This brazen decision to dismantle our first and only federal limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants will result in dirtier air in Ohio, putting our children’s health at risk. With Lake Erie currently covered by a toxic algae bloom the size of 250,000 football fields, we don’t need our efforts to protect the health of Ohioans undermined by the Trump Administration.

“Refusing to address climate change is not an option. Storms are getting worse. Temperatures are on the rise. Algal blooms on Lake Erie and the Ohio River are getting larger. Rolling back the Clean Power Plan is the wrong decision. Now is the time for real solutions to this very real threat.”


Joel Brammeier, President & CEO, Alliance for the Great Lakes

“Climate change is making bad Great Lakes problems worse every day. A warming planet means more green slime and toxic algae in our lakes, more extreme storms that flood sewers and damage people’s property, and more habitat for pernicious invasive species. Cleaner energy is a critical contributor to leaving our Great Lakes protected for generations to come.”

Press Release: Senate Bill on Autonomous Vehicles Wisely Includes Study of Transportation Infrastructure & Environmental Impacts


October 4, 2017


Senate Bill on Autonomous Vehicles Wisely Includes Study of Transportation Infrastructure & Environmental Impacts

ELPC commends leadership of Senators Duckworth and Schatz for co-sponsoring study amendment to bill 


WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee today adopted an amendment on safety standards for autonomous vehicles that requires the U.S. Department of Transportation to conduct a much-needed study on how autonomous vehicles will impact transportation infrastructure and the environment.  Senators Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Brian Schatz of Hawaii co-sponsored the amendment.

“Let’s better understand how driverless vehicles can be designed and deployed to help solve highway congestion and air pollution problems, and guide policy actions,” said Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Chicago-based nonprofit.  “The Environmental Law & Policy Center commends Senators Duckworth and Schatz for their leadership on the amendment providing for a thorough study of the impacts of autonomous vehicles on our transportation, environment and energy systems.”

“I’m proud the Senate Commerce Committee unanimously passed our amendment to educate the public about how self-driving vehicles will impact traffic congestion, pollution levels and the environment,” said Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL). “This legislation will help pave the way for safer, smarter, more efficient transportation systems in America.”

“A U.S. Department of Transportation study will soon begin to address the broad array of policy challenges and opportunities presented by autonomous vehicles,” said Learner.

The study will include a broad look at how autonomous vehicles will impact a wide range of issues including the transportation infrastructure, the environment, energy needs, congestion, vehicle miles traveled and land use. The amendment calls for launching the study within 60 days of the bill’s passage into law.




Senate Bill to Safely Test Autonomous Vehicles: Vital First Step to Adoption

Contact: Judith Nemes

Senate Bill to Safely Test Autonomous Vehicles: Vital First Step to Adoption
ELPC calling for study to explore impact on roads, public transportation, land use and the environment

Statement by Howard A. Learner

Executive Director, Environmental Law & Policy Center

Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center, said in response to a U.S. Senate bill introduced to develop safety standards and testing for automated vehicles:

“Testing autonomous vehicles for safety is a vital first step,” said Learner. “Self-driving vehicle technology will be transformative and that requires a smart implementation strategy beyond just safety considerations.

“ELPC believes a comprehensive study is needed to analyze how the deployment of autonomous vehicles will impact our highways, urban streets, public transportation, land use, energy consumption and the environment. We need to be looking ahead so money isn’t spent on infrastructure that isn’t needed or fixing problems that could be avoided.

“Understanding and addressing these issues now can advance a better and smarter deployment of self-driving vehicles that fulfill the vision for this technology.”


Press Release: ELPC Commends Full Funding for Great Lakes Restoration Initiative


SEPTEMBER 14, 2017

ELPC Commends Full Funding for Great Lakes Restoration Initiative 

House Rejects Trump Administration’s Zeroing Out FY 2018 Budget for this Successful Program 



Executive Director, Environmental Law & Policy Center


CHICAGO – Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center, said in response to the U.S. House of Representatives’ approval of full funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) as part of the fiscal year 2018 budget:

“The Environmental Law & Policy Center commends the bipartisan legislators who worked together to reject the Trump Administration’s cuts and provide full funding of $300 million for the successful Great Lakes Restoration Initiative,” Learner said. “This program has supported more than 3,000 sensible projects to protect and restore the Great Lakes since 2011. That’s great value for all of us who live, work and play in the Great Lakes. We urge the U.S. Senate to include full funding as it considers the budget.”


Press Release: AEP Ohio Settlement Plan Includes $10 Million Electric Vehicle Charging Station Rebate Program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                              

August 28, 2017                                                                                         



 AEP Ohio Settlement Plan includes $10 Million Electric Vehicle Charging Station Rebate Program 

ELPC and other enviro groups say program could boost EV car sales, encourage more U.S. investment in electric car technologies and reduce charging rates 

Columbus, Ohio — AEP Ohio late Friday filed a settlement plan with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio that includes a $10 million electric vehicle charging station rebate program that will strengthen the charging infrastructure needed to get more EVs on the road.

“Installing hundreds of charging stations through the settlement plan has the potential to put Columbus on the map as a leader in bringing more electric vehicles to the Midwest,” said Robert Kelter, Senior Attorney with the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “Getting more electric vehicles on the road will reduce air pollution, encourage American companies to invest more in EV technologies, and reduce our reliance on dirty fossil fuels.”

AEP Ohio will create and operate the rebate incentive program, which will cover costs for up to 300 Level 2 charging stations and 75 DC Fast charging stations. This program supports the Smart Columbus Initiative.

“This settlement is great news and a great opportunity for everyone in AEP’s service territory,” Clean Fuels Ohio Executive Director Sam Spofforth said.  “This is a strong first step but it’s only a first step.  This program will provide everyone, including the PUCO, the opportunity to see what works here in Ohio.

At least 10% of both the Level 2 and DC Fast charging stations will be set aside for low-income geographic areas. In addition, charging stations will be allocated to public locations, workplace charging, and multi-unit dwellings.

The settlement plan calls for three or more hardware and software charging station companies to participate in the program.

“We hope having more charging station companies in the program will jumpstart competition and lead to a competitive market where charging prices are driven down,” said ELPC’s Kelter.

AEP filed this case to extend its current “Electric Security Plan” for providing service to Ohio customers through 2024. The plan could be approved by late 2017 or early 2018.



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