Stein wades into fight over Clean Power Plan replacement

Madeline Gray—North State Journal
Attorney General-elect Josh Stein addresses supporters at N.C. State. FILE


RALEIGH — N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein is continuing the fight to keep Obama-era environmental laws in place. Stein recently joined 18 other Democrat attorneys general in filing comments calling the Trump administration’s proposal to replace the Clean Power Plan “unlawful and unsupported.”
“The Clean Power Plan makes us safer and healthier,” said Stein in a press release. “Investing in clean energy creates jobs, makes us more secure from Middle East terrorism, and combats climate change.”

The regulatory package makes mandatory cuts in all emissions from power plants, including those not proven to be harmful, with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 32 percent by 2030 and requires investment in renewable energy. Critics say that it was executive overreach and would drive up energy costs and jeopardize the nation’s power grid. The Clean Power Plan was also the foundation for President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to protect the coal industry.

After the plan was passed in 2007, 28 states filed lawsuits against the EPA in protest, including N.C., however in March of last year under the Cooper administration withdrew N.C. from the lawsuit.

In an unusual ruling in 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court reached down into a lower appeals court to stay the law pending a decision on its merits. It now sits before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to address the legal arguments made by the objecting states.

In March, Trump directed the EPA to begin unraveling the plan and come up with a replacement. Stein’s action comes in response to the proposed replacement presented by EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt last week, who put it out for public comment. The proposed replacement plan narrows regulations on existing facilities and proposes policies on a plant-by-plant basis, not entire states.

Supporters of Obama’s signature environmental law want to keep it in place, saying it would “eliminate as much climate change pollution as is emitted by more than 160 million cars a year — or 70 percent of the nation’s passenger cars.”

In filings last week, Stein and his peers said the Trump administration’s position “completely ignores the dire threat climate change poses, the interconnected nature of power plants, and the nature of the pollutant (carbon dioxide) that is the subject of regulation.”

Of the 18 states and the District of Columbia who signed onto the comments, 11 have energy prices above the national average of 10 cents per kilowatt hour. N.C. is below the national average at 9.2 cents per kilowatt hour.