Clean Power Plan

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 “Fortunately, federal clean air standards can’t be arbitrarily repealed, but require rigorous, impartial analysis and a decision maker with an open mind who has the interests of all Americans at heart.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.

Politico: ELPC Hires Janet McCabe, Obama-era Acting EPA Air Chief



Janet McCabe, the Obama-era acting EPA air chief who helped mastermind the Clean Power Plan and oversaw various other key regulations, will join the Chicago-based Environmental Law & Policy Center as a senior law fellow, she confirmed to ME. In an email to the ELPC staff yesterday, executive director Howard Learner notes McCabe will work part-time from her native Indianapolis starting May 15. Learner added: “These are extraordinary times, and we are adding top-rate talent to keep building ELPC’s ‘top of our game’ team to play both winning offense and defense. The best defense is a good offense. I am excited to be working together with Janet McCabe to play to win in the changed political circumstances.”


E&E News: ELPC Hires Former US EPA Air Chief Janet McCabe

Obama-era Air Chief Lands at Green Group
By Kevin Bogardus

Janet McCabe, who helped craft President Obama’s Clean Power Plan at U.S. EPA, has landed at a prominent environmental group.

McCabe is joining the Environmental Law & Policy Center as a senior law fellow. She starts at the Midwestern green law and policy group May 15 and will be based in Indianapolis.

In an interview with E&E News, McCabe said she was looking forward to working with ELPC.

People: Comings and Goings
“I’m really excited about this opportunity and want to remain active in these discussions about public health and the environment,” McCabe said.

Howard Learner, executive director of ELPC, said the group was thrilled to bring someone with McCabe’s clout on board, considering the challenging political times for the environmental movement.

“Janet is terrific, and she is one of the nation’s leading clean air attorneys,” Learner said.

“Certainly her knowledge, experience and savvy in developing the Clean Air Act standards during the last administration will give us strong insights into what strategic actions we should take going forward in protecting public health and the environment.”


WGN Radio’s The Download: ELPC’s Learner Talks to Justin Kaufmann About the Impact of Trump’s Rollbacks of Clean Power Plan & Fuel Efficiency Standards

Why Does President Trump Want to Loosen Fuel Economy Standards?
March 30, 2017
With Justin Kaufmann

Howard Learner, President and Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center, joins Justin to discuss President Trump rolling back Obama-era fuel efficiency standards, President Trump signing an executive order killing of Obama’s Clean Power Plan and what that means for the economy, technology and climate change.

Listen Here

Greenwire: ELPC’s Howard Learner Says Pruitt Wrong for U.S. EPA

GreenwireTRANSITION: Pruitt Has Mixed Court Record in EPA Showdowns
December 8, 2016
By Jeremy P. Jacobs and Amanda Reilly

As Oklahoma attorney general, Scott Pruitt, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to lead U.S. EPA, built a record of filing politically charged lawsuits against the agency.

Almost all of those lawsuits failed.

Since Pruitt became attorney general in 2011, the Republican has used the office to launch an offensive against EPA as well as other major Obama administration policies, including the Affordable Care Act.

But a review of those lawsuits by E&E News shows Pruitt lost the majority of those cases, some of which were quickly tossed by federal judges.

Pruitt’s most significant win was the Supreme Court’s decision to put President Obama’s landmark greenhouse gas emissions program on hold. But legal experts say his primary argument — that EPA was overstepping constitutional limits and trampling states’ rights — is unlikely to prevail.

Yet Pruitt has drawn a significant following on the right for his tenacity in challenging the Obama administration. And Pruitt’s legal strategy appears in line with Trump’s strong statements on the campaign trail about rolling back Obama administration regulations that he views as threatening the economy.

The president-elect commented along similar lines in announcing Pruitt’s nomination today.

“For too long, [EPA] has spent taxpayer dollars on an out-of-control anti-energy agenda that has destroyed millions of jobs, while also undermining our incredible farmers and many other businesses and industries at every turn,” Trump said in a statement. “As my EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt, the highly respected Attorney General from the state of Oklahoma, will reverse this trend and restore the EPA’s essential mission of keeping our air and our water clean and safe.”

Pruitt’s critics, however, say the Republican is more interested in scoring political points than advancing sound legal theories.

“He clearly files politically motivated lawsuits aimed at protecting polluters,” said Bill Snape, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity. “And he’s done some odd things legally.”

Howard Learner of the Environmental Law & Policy Center was more direct in assessing Pruitt’s record.

“Look, as Oklahoma’s attorney general, Mr. Pruitt consistently challenged EPA clean air and clean water standards,” Learner said. “And mostly, he did not achieve success.”

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Midwest Energy News: ELPC’s Rob Kelter says New Ohio Energy Bill Could Threaten Jobs


Critics: Jobs Will Be in Jeopardy if Ohio Energy Bill Becomes Law
December 2, 2016
By Kathiann M. Kowalski

On the same day that a new study reported that more than 300 companies in Ohio are part of the supply chains for the wind and solar industries, lawmakers voted a bill out of committee that would make compliance with the state’s clean energy standards voluntary until 2020.

If House Bill 554 becomes law, critics say the state would lose out on business opportunities and jobs. In their view, the bill would also discourage competition, keep electricity prices high and promote pollution that causes health problems and contributes to climate change.

“We’re either going to move in a clean energy direction that produces new jobs related to solar and wind and efficiency,” said Rob Kelter of the Environmental Law & Policy Center, which released the supply chain report on Nov. 30. “Or we’re going to let other states and other countries manufacture these new products.”

‘Behind the Radar’

According to the supply chain report, 207 Ohio companies supply the solar energy industry, 134 manufacture things for the wind energy industry, and 20 serve as suppliers for both industries.

Those companies’ manufacturing operations “are sort of behind the radar,” Kelter noted.

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Public News Service: ELPC’s Rob Kelter says wind and solar play important role in Ohio’s clean-energy future

Public News ServiceReport: Solar and Wind Good Business for Ohio Companies
November 30, 2016
By Mary Kuhlman

COLUMBUS, Ohio – As Ohio lawmakers debate the future of the freeze on the state’s clean-energy standards, a new report highlights how strong clean-energy policies can boost the economic growth of wind and solar energy. According to research released today by the Environmental Law and Policy Center, with more than 300 solar and wind supply-chain businesses, the Buckeye State is primed to become a major renewable-energy hub.

Senior attorney at the center Robert Kelter said the state’s established manufacturing base and trained workforce are a big part of the reason.

“Ohio has a really strong workforce of people in the manufacturing sector, and those people are perfect for the kinds of jobs that are needed to supply the wind and solar industries,” he explained.

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Progress IL: Enviros rally & testify on clean energy justice issues in Chicago

Environmentalists from across the country were in Chicago Wednesday to testify before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency about its proposed Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP).

CEIP is an optional component of the Clean Power Plan, which seeks to slash carbon emissions from existing U.S. power plants. The voluntary incentive program is meant to jump-start action to curb carbon pollution and help states comply with the Clean Power Plan.

CEIP seeks to reward early investment in energy efficiency and solar projects in low-income communities as well as zero-emitting renewable energy projects — including wind, solar, geothermal and hydropower — in all communities.

Participating states could use the emission allowances or emission rate credits distributed through the program to comply with the Clean Power Plan when it takes effect in 2022. The EPA, which released its updated CEIP plan in June, is proposing that the matching pool of allowances or emission rate credits be split evenly between low-income community projects and renewable energy projects.

Emma Lockridge, a leader with Michigan United and the People’s Action Institute, was among dozens of speakers from across the country who testified this morning in support of making CEIP mandatory and more comprehensive.

Lockridge and many other hearing attendees described themselves as living in frontline, environmental justice communities.

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Crain’s Detroit Business: ELPC’s Learner Discusses Flaws in Economic Study of Mich. Clean Power Plan Options


Seeking Answers on Emissions

By Jay Greene

The statewide and national conundrum over clean energy regulations could be partially solved by a tax on carbon producers or a system of tradeable permits for pollution producers, according to a new report.

A report by the Anderson Economic Group LLC in Lansing concludes that using a “cap and trade” or “carbon tax” approach in Michigan to comply with the proposed Clean Power Plan — the Environmental Protection Agency regulations to significantly reduce U.S. power plants’ carbon dioxide — would be costly for Michigan residents, raise business costs and act as a damper on economic development.

But doing nothing and allowing current energy production and efficiency trends to continue over the next decade will not reduce carbon dioxide pollution from power plants enough to comply with carbon reduction targets contained in the EPA’s proposed plan, said Patrick Anderson, the study’s author.
For two years, Michigan legislators have debated how best to replace the state’s 2008 energy law that mandated 10 percent renewable energy generation and set targets for energy efficiency savings. The law helped create 1,500 megawatts of renewable energy, enough to power 1.3 million homes, and generate savings to rate payers of $4 billion, state officials have said.

But it appears Republicans, who hold a solid majority in the state Legislature, can’t agree on issues like customer choice, net metering, a strong integrated resource planning process (which, among other things, uses predictive modeling to estimate future energy costs) and how best to encourage utilities to replace coal with renewable energy or natural gas.




March 16, 2016

David Jakubiak

Senate Leadership Should Hold Fair Hearing of Supreme Court Nominee as Required by Constitution
Not Doing So is “Disrespectful of Americans’ Rights to Breathe Clean Air, Drink Safe Water, and Live in Communities Without Toxic Threats to Their Children’s Health”

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

“We are pleased that President Obama is exercising his constitutional responsibility to nominate a highly-qualified Justice for the United States Supreme Court.  The Senate leadership is putting politics ahead of their constitutional duty to hold a fair hearing and fully consider the President’s Supreme Court nominee, which is disrespectful of Americans’ rights to breathe clean air, drink safe water, and live in communities without toxic threats to their children’s health,” said Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “The Supreme Court’s recent 5-4 stay vote, blocking the U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan standards, should remind everyone what’s at stake.”

The U.S. Supreme Court, by an unusual 5-4 order, halted implementation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan in February.  The Clean Power Plan will both help to drive clean energy development and reduce greenhouse gas pollution that harms public health and our environment.  The Clean Power Plan is based on the Clean Air Act requirement, recognized by the Supreme Court in the Massachusetts v. EPA decision, that the U.S. EPA regulate to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, which endangers public health.



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