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Denver Files Challenge to EPA Repeal of Clean Power Plan

Replacement Affordable Clean Energy rule inconsistent with Clean Air Act, City Attorney contends

DENVER – The City and County of Denver is joining the chorus of communities from across the country to challenge the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) repeal of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan and replacement with the Trump Administration’s new Affordable Clean Energy rule. This new rule would allow highly-polluting, uneconomical fossil fuel generating power plants to continue operating longer than climate science indicates they should be, while setting no overall emissions-reduction requirements.

“Now is not the time for the federal government to be in full retreat from safeguarding our environment from the devastating effects of climate change,” Mayor Michael B. Hancock said. “Climate change is real and it’s happening right now. Repealing the Clean Power Plan is the Trump Administration dealing yet another blow to worldwide efforts to combat the greatest environmental threat to the security and well-being of our nation and planet.”

Less than a month ago, a coalition of 29 states and cities, including the State of Colorado and City of Boulder, filed a similar Petition for Review.  Like Denver, the coalition believes the EPA has a fundamental responsibility to protect the environment.

Denver’s Climate Action Plan aims to achieve 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030, which is a key strategy to achieve the long-term climate goal to reduce emissions within the city 80 percent by 2050. This work would be supported by the Clean Power Plan, which by 2030, would cut carbon emissions from coal- and gas-fueled electrical generation facilities by 32 percent respective to 2005 levels. Repeal of the Clean Power Plan would significantly hinder Denver’s ability to achieve its stated climate goals, as the new rule adopted by the EPA fails to require significant reductions in carbon pollution – and would actually increase conventional pollutants.

“The Clean Air Act requires EPA to set limits on air pollutants, such as greenhouse gases, based on the emissions reductions achievable through the ‘best system of emission reduction’ for a given source category,” Denver City Attorney Kristin M. Bronson said.  “Trump’s Affordable Clean Energy Rule violates this requirement by determining that the best system of emission reduction for coal-fired power plants is limited to equipment efficiency measures, despite significant evidence in the record that other strategies commonly used by utilities, such as fuel switching from coal to natural gas or renewable sources, will result in significantly greater emissions reductions.”

At a time when utilities are aggressively moving away from coal-fired energy production in favor of affordable renewable energy sources like wind and solar, in addition to natural gas, Denver believes the Trump Administration is trying to prop up the dying coal industry at the expense of the global climate.  Coal-fired energy production has proven to be, time and again, one of the biggest contributors to a warming climate.

The Clean Power Plan was enacted under President Obama, and established the first nationwide emission limits on a major source of greenhouse gases – existing fossil fuel generating power plants. The Trump Administration’s Affordable Clean Energy rule will impede the city’s ability to make progress on our goals and harm public health. Comments filed by the coalition when the rule was first published assert that the EPA failed to adequately provide for public input in the rulemaking process; that the EPA’s revised determinations misinterpret the Clean Air Act and are arbitrary and capricious because they fail to consider relevant evidence and the law; that the rule would significantly increase pollution and harm states and cities; that the rule is inconsistent with the Clean Air Act; and that the EPA failed to consider the benefits of reducing carbon pollution.

See attached Petition for Review against EPA to challenge its repeal of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan.