Clean Power Plan

How Supreme Court Pick Brett Kavanaugh Could Return US Policy to the Era of Robber Barons

Read time: 8 mins
Brett Kavanaugh

As Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination hearings get under way, understanding his appointment’s potential impacts for corporate regulation and the climate means looking back all the way to 1890.

That was when a nearly 50-year stretch known to legal historians as the “Lochner era” kicked off — a time better known in U.S. history as the age of the robber barons.

Trump’s Coal Plan — Neither Clean nor Affordable

Read time: 5 mins
Gibson coal power plant owned by Duke Energy

By Daniel Fiorino, American University School of Public Affairs

Is climate change a problem? Consider the evidence: wildfires in California, Sweden, and Siberia; flooding in coastal areas due to sea level rise; droughts in some places and extreme weather and rainfall in others; new and emerging patterns of disease; heat waves; and much more. Yet, looking at the policy changes announced in the last 17 months by the Trump administration, one would think there is no such thing as climate change.

This week the Trump administration proposed a rule for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal-fired electrical generating plants, fulfilling a promise to replace an Obama-era plan to cut emissions from coal plants by one-third between now and 2030.

Sizing Up Trump’s Dirty Replacement for the Clean Power Plan

Read time: 3 mins
Trump digs coal

This is a guest post by ClimateDenierRoundup.

Thirteen months ago, we made some guesses about what a replacement for the Clean Power Plan might look like. We speculated the new rule would be the sort of “inside the fenceline” policy preferred by the industry–one where coal plants are only required to make marginal improvements, basically just upgrading existing plants to run more efficiently.

Such an approach, which makes coal plants more profitable to run and would keep them running for longer, would ultimately lead to even higher levels of pollution than if there was no policy at all.

When Corporations Take Credit for Green Deeds, Their Lobbying May Tell Another Story

Read time: 6 mins
Scott Pruitt meeting with auto industry leaders

By Tom Lyon, University of Michigan and Magali (Maggie) Delmas, University of California, Los Angeles

Today most large companies like Exxon Mobil, Ford and GM issue slick reports extolling their efforts to conserve resources, use renewable energy or fund clean water supplies in developing countries. This emphasis on efforts to curb environmental harm while benefiting society is called corporate sustainability.

Once uncommon but now mainstream, this show of support for a greener and kinder business model might seem like a clear step forward. But many of these same companies are quietly using their political clout, often through industry trade associations, to block or reverse policies that would make the economy more sustainable. And because public policy raises the bar for entire industries, requiring that all businesses meet minimum standards, lobbying to block sound public policies can outweigh the positive impact from internal company initiatives.

It's Official: Trump Administration to Repeal Clean Power Plan

Read time: 3 mins
Scott Pruitt at the White House

By Lorraine Chow, EcoWatch. Reposted with permission from EcoWatch.

The Trump administration will scrap the Clean Power Plan (CPP), President Obama's signature environmental policy aimed at fighting climate change, confirming earlier reports of such a move.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt said at an event in Kentucky he will sign a proposed rule on Tuesday “to withdraw the so-called clean power plan of the past administration.”

Why Shifting Regulatory Power to the States Won't Improve the Environment

Read time: 6 mins
Power plant with a tall smoke stack

By Michael A. Livermore, University of Virginia

President Trump and his appointees, particularly Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, have made federalism a theme of their efforts to scale back environmental regulation. They argue that the federal government has become too intrusive and that states should be returned to a position of “regulatory primacy” on environmental matters.

We have to let the states compete to see who has the best solutions. They know the best how to spend their dollars and how to take care of the people within each state,” Trump said in a speech to the National Governors Association last February.

Some liberal-leaning states have responded by adopting more aggressive regulations. California has positioned itself as a leader in the fight to curb climate change. New York is restructuring its electricity market to facilitate clean energy. And Virginia’s Democratic governor, Terry McAuliffe, has ordered state environmental regulators to design a rule to cap carbon emissions from power plants.

State experimentation may be the only way to break the gridlock on environmental issues that now overwhelms our national political institutions. However, without a broad mandate from the federal government to address urgent environmental problems, few red and purple states will follow California’s lead. In my view, giving too much power to the states will likely result in many states doing less, not more.

Trump's Energy and Climate Change Order: Seven Essential Reads

Read time: 5 mins
Coal mine on federal land in New Mexico

By Jennifer Weeks, The Conversation

Editor’s note: The following is a roundup of archival stories. The Conversation

On March 28 President Trump signed an executive order that launched a broad assault on policies put in place by the Obama administration to reduce carbon pollution. Trump’s order directs the Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw and rewrite the Clean Power Plan, which limits carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. It also eliminates a number of other policies related to cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Our experts explain the policies under assault and the impacts of this about-face.

Maryland Passes Ban Bill, Will Become Third State to Block Fracking

Read time: 8 mins
Rally to ban fracking in front of a Maryland government building

In a historic vote Monday night, Maryland's Senate passed a ban on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking — expected to be signed into law by the state's Republican governor — making the state the third in the U.S. to reject the controversial technique. The 35–10 Senate vote came shortly after the state's House of Delegates approved the ban in a 97–40 vote.

Crucially, the state's governor, Republican Larry Hogan, recently announced that he was no longer convinced that fracking could be done safely if properly regulated and that a ban was necessary. Hogan said he will support the ban, making his state the first state with shale gas reserves to enact a fracking ban through legislation.

Biochar Lobby's Protocol Receives Blistering Peer Review, Casts Doubts on Serving as Climate Solution

For biochar's fiercest promoters, the sky's the limit for the seemingly mystical product — or at least that's been the pitch for years, ever since TIME Magazine referred to it as “black gold” in a December 2008 feature story. To some, it could do it all: pull carbon out of the atmosphere, enrich the soil, and be refined into a clean and green fuel source.

Yet a peer-reviewed study conducted by the American Carbon Registry (ACR) analyzing the science bolstering the biochar lobby's business plan calls all of these claims into question. Released in March 2015, the review concluded that “the scientific literature does not provide sufficient evidence of the stability of soil carbon sequestration in fields.”

Read time: 12 mins

Now Under Attack, EPA’s Work on Climate Change Has Been Going on for Decades

Read time: 6 mins
Factory smokestack releasing clouds of pollution

By , University of Oregon

The Trump administration intends to roll back two pillars of the Obama administration’s climate policy — regulations to limit carbon emissions from vehicles and power plants.

Under President Obama, the Environmental Protection Agency was central to these regulations. But new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has said he plans to return the agency to its “core mission” of ensuring clean air and clean water, rather than addressing climate change.

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