Attorney General Phil Weiser joins 21 state Attorneys General in lawsuit challenging federal rollback of climate and clean air rules
Aug. 13, 2019 (DENVER, Colo.)—Today, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser joined with several other state and local governments to challenge the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s rollback of clean air standards and climate rules.
The lawsuit, filed in the Washington, D.C. Court of Appeals, alleges that the EPA’s new plan, which seeks to replace the 2015 Clean Power Plan, demonstrates a failure of the agency to uphold its legal duty to regulate air pollutants when they pose a risk to public health. The EPA’s rule rolls back nationwide limits placed on fossil-fuel power plants and will have virtually no impact on these emissions. The rule would also obstruct the progress that states like Colorado are making toward clean, renewable, and affordable electricity generation. Finally, the rule disregards the U.S. Supreme Court’s directive to the EPA in Massachusetts v. EPA to regulate carbon emission under the Clean Air Act.
“Because Colorado’s economy relies on our natural resources, we are among the first to witness the effects of climate change. The EPA’s rollback of clean air standards and climate rules and their proposed replacement undermine the rule of law and the work Colorado has already done to advance clean energy solutions and curb harmful emissions,” Weiser said. “Protecting our land, air, and water is a top priority for the Attorney General’s Office. We owe it to future generations to ensure that climate change is treated as a serious threat and that the rule of law is fairly applied.”
The Clean Air Act requires that limits on air pollutants must be based on the emissions reductions achievable through the “best system of emission reduction.” The “best system of emission reduction” used in the EPA’s new rule—equipment upgrades at coal power plants—will reduce emissions by only 0.7 percent more by 2030 than having no rule at all, according to EPA’s own analysis. Further, EPA found that, under its rule, emissions of one or more of three pollutants—carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxide (NOx), and sulfur dioxide (SO2)—will increase in 18 states by 2030.
As reflected by a 2018 updated Colorado Climate Plan, climate change poses a substantial risk to Colorado’s critical natural resources. Failure to curb this threat will cause shifts in snowmelt, stressed ecosystems, extreme weather events, and increased likelihood of drought. Climate change also threatens Colorado’s economy including the outdoor recreation and agriculture industries.
Others joining the lawsuit include California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia, and the cities of Boulder, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, and South Miami.