Attorney General Kwame Raoul, as part of a coalition of 28 states and cities, today announced a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule. The ACE rule replaced the Clean Power Plan, the first-ever nationwide limit on existing fossil-fueled power plants.
“The people of Illinois and around the country cannot afford the impact of unchecked climate change,” Raoul said. “The EPA’s Affordable Clean Energy rule is a huge step backward in the effort to address the devastating effects of climate change. It is a misguided policy that ignores the science of climate change and will prolong the nation’s reliance on polluting, expensive coal power plants, and will reverse progress toward clean, renewable, affordable energy.”
The ACE rule barely mentions climate change or recognizes the threat it poses to the public’s health, the economy, or the environment. Additionally, the rule disregards requirements of the federal Clean Air Act. The Clean Air Act requires that limits on air pollutants, such as greenhouse gases, must be based on the emissions reductions achievable through the “best system of emission reduction.” In the ACE rule, the EPA has eliminated shifting from coal-fueled energy generation to less carbon-intensive generation as a “best system.”
The “best system of emission reduction” used by the EPA in the ACE rule – equipment upgrades at coal power plants – will reduce emissions by only 0.7 percent more by 2030 than having no rule, according to EPA’s own analysis. Further, the EPA found that emissions of one or more of three pollutants – carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and sulfur dioxide (SO2) – will increase in 18 states in 2030 compared to having no rule.
The International Energy Agency estimates that climate change pollution from the U.S. power sector must be reduced by 74 percent by 2030 for the U.S. to be able to achieve the goal of limiting worldwide temperature increase to less than 2 degrees Celsius. By the EPA’s own estimates, the ACE rule falls short of hitting this target with a projected reduction of only 35 percent.
Already, climate change is harming the well-being of Illinois’ residents, natural resources, and economy. Residents and communities throughout Illinois are continuing to recover from spring storms and record flood levels that impacted 36 counties. Violent tornadoes, extreme cold and heat, and destructive flooding have all become more frequent and life-threatening. These changes have also prevented farmers from planting crops on time, reduced crop yield, and harmed crop quality. Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture declared an agriculture disaster in all 102 Illinois counties. By failing to adequately limit climate-change-causing carbon dioxide pollution from power plants, the ACE rule does nothing to mitigate these harms.
The Illinois Attorney General’s office has worked since 2003 to limit carbon pollution from fossil-fueled power plants. Most recently, the Attorney General’s office joined a coalition of states, counties, and cities in filing comments in opposition to the EPA’s proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan, and filed comments in opposition to the ACE rule as proposed.
Joining Raoul in the lawsuit are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. In addition, Boulder, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, and South Miami joined the lawsuit.