Capitol Alert

Trump’s clean energy plan is ‘flimsy, fake,’ California leaders say as they sue

Hear California AG explain the higher math behind environmental lawsuit

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Governor Gavin Newsom, and California Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols announce a lawsuit against the Trump administration on a major environmental issue.
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California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Governor Gavin Newsom, and California Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols announce a lawsuit against the Trump administration on a major environmental issue.

A day after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced California’s significant progress in cutting greenhouse gas emissions in efforts to combat climate change, the state joined a coalition of attorneys general on Tuesday to legally challenge President Donald Trump’s plan to roll back clean energy initiatives.

California’s latest lawsuit was filed on Tuesday as part of a 22-state effort to defeat Trump’s replacement of former President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, a 2015 effort to curb climate change pollution caused by fossil-burning power plants.

Newsom and Attorney General Xavier Becerra called Trump’s replacement plan a “toothless substitute” to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions during a Tuesday press conference.

“This is about generations that we are fighting for,” Newsom said. “This is about our kids and our grandkids. This is about clean air. This is about clean water. This is about endangered species.”

Trump rolled back the limits on power plant emissions in June, instead replacing it with an initiative called the Affordable Clean Energy plan.

“Today, we are delivering on one of President Trump’s core priorities: ensuring the American public has access to affordable, reliable energy in a manner that continues our nation’s environmental progress,” Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler said when the plan was announced.

Becerra said Trump’s plan stymies clean energy generation, and is Trump’s effort to “protect coal and gas companies from any serious limits on climate change emissions from power plants.”

“Devastating wildfires and mudslides, life-threatening drought, sinking water tables, intense heat waves, extreme and unbalanced temperatures, choking smog. California doesn’t have time for flimsy, fake substitutes to clean power,” Becerra said. “Or health, our economy, our future as the engine of prosperity and innovation in America are at stake. Pollution doesn’t respect borders.”

Becerra alleges that the new rule violates the Clean Air Act, which tasks the Environmental Protection Agency with reducing power plant pollution. He also claims that the rule “attempts to artificially narrow the (agency’s) regulatory authority” and disregards the government’s responsibility to use the best emissions reduction systems.

The lawsuit was filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and coincides with a recent report by the California Air Resources Board that found California made significant gains in 2017 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2017, zero-emission energy sources powered 52 percent of California’s electricity, according to the report. Greenhouse gas emission trends in the same year also fell below California’s 2020 reduction target.

“Eat your heart out, Donald Trump,” Newsom said. “California is in the future business. We are leaping ahead.”

Hannah Wiley joined The Bee as a legislative reporter in 2019. She produces the morning newsletter for Capitol Alert and previously reported on immigration, education and criminal justice. She’s a Chicago-area native and a graduate of Saint Louis University and Northwestern.
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