Two major health organizations are suing the EPA over the agency’s repeal of the Clean Power Plan – the first-ever federal policy aimed at reducing harmful carbon pollution from power plants – and the move to replace it with the “Affordable Clean Energy” rule.

The American Lung Association and the American Public Health Association, represented by attorneys from the Clean Air Task Force, claim that the EPA has abdicated its legal duties and obligations to protect public health.

According to a statement:

“As affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court, EPA has legal authority and obligation under the Clean Air Act to protect and preserve public health and welfare, including by regulating carbon dioxide pollution from coal-fired power plants. However, it is simply not lawful for EPA to use its legal authority in ways that will increase dangerous air pollutants and harm the health of Americans. 

“The Clean Air Act directs and authorizes EPA to take steps to reduce air pollution to protect public health and the environment. As 74 health and medical organizations (including the American Lung Association, American Public Health Association) emphasized recently, climate change is a health emergency, already taking a toll on the health of millions of people across the United States. From increased heat, more frequent and intense wildfires, extreme storms and floods to the increased formation of ozone pollution and the spread of water-borne and vector-borne diseases like Lyme Disease, climate change is already harming the health of people in the United States. 

“In addition to increasing the carbon dioxide pollution that fuels climate change, independent research from 2019 predicts that the ACE rule will result in some fossil fuel plants running more often and delaying their retirement, which would mean increased emissions of dangerous pollution as compared to the Clean Power Plan, and even as compared to no rule at all.

“EPA’s decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan and replace it with the ACE rule continues to disregard the vast health consequences of climate change and puts more lives at risk. Our organizations remain committed to fight to protect public health in the United States from EPA’s continued efforts to roll back these protections.”

Reliable energy supply

The EPA said the ACE rule, which was finalized June 19, “restores the rule of law and empowers states to continue to reduce emissions while providing affordable and reliable energy for all Americans.”

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the rule would ensure access to affordable, reliable energy in an environmentally responsible manner.

“Unlike the Clean Power Plan, ACE adheres to the Clean Air Act and gives states the regulatory certainty they need to continue to reduce emissions and provide a dependable, diverse supply of electricity that all Americans can afford,” said Wheeler. “When ACE is fully implemented, we expect to see U.S. power sector CO2 emissions fall by as much as 35 percent below 2005 levels.”