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States, Cities, Businesses Move Forward on Clean Energy as EPA Goes Backward

Yesterday, the Trump administration announced its repeal of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, the first-ever rule to limit carbon pollution from the U.S. electric power sector. This is the latest in a series of actions by the administration to slow America’s transition to clean energy. The short-term impact of the rollback will be limited because current market trends have largely overtaken the Obama-era rule, but the impact on long-term climate action could be significant—if not addressed.

The EPA is required to limit carbon pollution under the Clean Air Act. As the Supreme Court has ruled on three separate occasions, EPA has a responsibility under the Clean Air Act and other laws to protect our families and communities from harmful carbon pollution from power plants and other sources. When EPA drafted the Clean Power Plan three years ago, power sector carbon emissions were expected to climb slightly over the coming decades. Thanks to cheap renewable energy, flat demand, coal retirements, and low-cost gas, current predictions suggest the country as a whole is on track to meet EPA’s national goal.

State, city, and business leaders across the country are moving forward with clean energy solutions that reduce air and carbon pollution and grow the clean energy economy, creating well-paying American jobs. (See our blog posts about recent clean energy progress in Nevada, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and California.) They understand the economic, environmental, and health benefits of clean energy solutions and acutely understand the risks associated with dirty energy sources. Here are statements from a few of these leaders:

When asked for comment Tuesday, Google referred The Atlantic to a joint statement from Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft in March, when President Trump issued an executive order calling for a review of the Clean Power Plan. “We believe that strong clean energy and climate policies, like the Clean Power Plan, can make renewable energy supplies more robust and address the serious threat of climate change while also supporting American competitiveness, innovation, and job growth,” the statement read.

Additional comments:

Iowa’s large renewable energy portfolio has been a leading factor in landing economic development projects such as Apple and Facebook data centers. “Iowa didn’t need permission from the federal government when it was the first state to establish a renewable portfolio standard in 1983, and we aren’t going to wait for the federal government to act when determining our actions today.” Brenna Smith, a spokeswoman for Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds

“The Trump Administration’s constant assault on our environment will not diminish Minnesotans’ resolve to build a vibrant clean energy economy…In the upcoming 2018 Session, I will again urge the Legislature to adopt the ‘50 by 30’ Renewable Energy Standard, which Lt. Governor Smith and legislators from both parties have championed. We must do more to ensure our children and grandchildren inherit a better future, and an even stronger clean energy economy.” Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton

“This decision won’t change the fact that wind, and increasingly solar energy, cost less than coal. In Minnesota, clean energy already supports more than 57,000 jobs, with growth that outpaces the rest of our state’s economy. Our administration remains committed to advancing clean energy policies that are good for the planet and good for our economy.” Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith

“Scrapping the Clean Power Plan ignores sound science and the extreme cost of climate change. California will, in fact, exceed the goals of the Clean Power Plan. We will push ahead and work with states that share our belief in science and the imperative to combat global warming.” California Governor Jerry Brown

“By seeking to repeal the Clean Power Plan – especially without any credible commitment to replacing it – the Trump Administration’s campaign of climate change denial continues, once again putting industry special interests ahead of New Yorkers’ and all Americans’ safety, health, and the environment. I am proud to lead the coalition of states and localities defending the Clean Power Plan in federal court.” New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman

The EPA can repeal the Clean Power Plan but not the laws of economics. This won’t revive coal or stop the US from reaching our Paris goal.
— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) October 9, 2017

(On October 11, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced it will provide $64 million in new support for organizations—including Energy Foundation, Sierra Club, Advanced Energy Economy, Earthjustice, Environmental Defense Fund, League of Conservation Voters, and the Natural Resources Defense Council—working to expand clean energy solutions that will create jobs, economic opportunity, and clean air and water for states and local communities.)

In July 2015, 365 companies—including General Mills, Mars Inc., Nestle, Staples, and Unilever—and investors sent letters to more than two-dozen governors across the U.S., voicing their support for the Clean Power Plan, and more than 2,300 state, city, business, and academic leaders have signed the We Are Still In declaration, standing by the Paris Agreement and committing to meet its goals.

As Energy Foundation CEO and Co-founder Eric Heitz wrote when the Trump administration said it would withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, the Clean Power Plan decision will not stop a global economy accelerating toward a low-carbon future and the health and economic benefits that brings. Global leaders, cities and states, businesses, and the American public are increasingly demanding more clean energy and urgent action on climate change. Our work is to amplify those voices both in the U.S. and abroad to show the reality that President Trump is denying: There is an inevitable structural transition taking place in the U.S. and global energy economy, led by businesses, consumers, and policymakers from across the political spectrum.

Jason Mark, Senior Vice President, U.S. Programs 

Photo credit: Stefano Paltera / NREL