ALBANY — State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is threatening to sue President Donald Trump again, this time over the administration’s plans to repeal the Environmental Protection Agencies program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Schneiderman announced Monday he was joining forces with several other states to push back against EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s plan to eliminate the Clean Power Plan, which establishes carbon emission standards for fossil-fueled power plants.
“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,” Schneiderman said. “I am proud to lead the coalition of states and localities defending the Clean Power Plan in federal court. If and when the Trump Administration finalizes this repeal, I will sue to protect New Yorkers and put a stop to the Trump administration’s irresponsible and illegal efforts to turn back the clock on public health.”
Pruitt announced the repeal of the Clean Power Plan in Kentucky on Monday, telling reporters that the “War on Coal is over,” arguing that the implementation of the rule in 2015 was outside President Barack Obama’s authority, and according to the New York Times, which sources a leaked draft of the proposed repeal, Pruitt is arguing that not complying with the rule would save the U.S. $33 billion and that the health benefits of the rule were overstated.
U.S. Rep. John Faso said Trump is dreaming if he thinks he will bring back the coal industry in this way.
“If the Trump administration is trying to bring back the coal industry, he won’t be able to,” Faso said. “With the rise of natural gas, coal prices have plummeted. It is no longer economically viable.”
Faso said instead of continuing to swamp the plan in litigation, the government should look for economically viable options.
As Attorney General of Oklahoma, Pruitt fought the implementation of the Clean Power Plan, along with several other states, which has been halted as the courts decide if the rule was within Obama’s power to implement.
The plan was created in response to an earlier lawsuit by New York and other states that argued that the EPA failed to create clean power standards, further arguing that it is in the EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act to require mandatory cuts in the emissions of climate change pollutants from fossil-fuel-burning power plants.
Faso said the judicial hold makes Schneiderman’s threat inappropriate.
“I think it is a questionable proposition because it is on hold,” Faso said. “Besides the migration of emissions the repeal of the Clean Power Plan does not affect New York, because our emissions have dropped 50 percent since 1990.”
Faso said the reduction in emissions in New York is due to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a program known as “cap and sell,” which creates a cap on emissions produced by power plants and sells allowances of greenhouse gases that can be emitted. RGGI and cap and sell have been criticized by environmental groups for not doing enough to reduce emissions.
“We should be looking at emissions from the transportation sector that saw a 20 percent increase since 1990,” Faso said.
Faso proposed a bipartisan bill, called the Climate Solutions Commission Act, which would create a commission with the sole purpose of investigating solutions to climate change.