A Coalition of 22 States Are Suing the Trump Administration Over Its Weak Coal Rule

New York State attorney general Letitia James
Photo: AP

New York attorney general Letitia James has had a busy start to the week. On Monday, she announced plans to sue the Trump administration over its gutting of the Endangered Species Act. And on Tuesday, she along with 21 other state attorneys general and seven cities announced they were suing the administration over its weak-ass replacement to the Clean Power Plan.

A legal challenge in some form has been expected ever since the Trump administration dropped the Affordable Clean Energy Rule (ACE), its Clean Power Plan replacement, in June. And now it’s here, marking the start of what could be a protracted legal battle over the administration’s power plant regulations.

The lawsuit alleges that ACE doesn’t do enough to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, something the Environmental Protection Agency is mandated to do under the Clean Air Act. A lot of this ties to the concept of what is the “best system of emission reductions,” as defined by the Clean Air Act.

Under Obama’s Clean Power Plan, the administration set out targets for each state to reduce its power plant emissions and incentivized moving away from coal, the most carbon-intensive form of energy. In comparison, ACE doesn’t lay out any specific targets for carbon pollution reductions and only asks that plants rely on “inside the fence-line” solutions to reduce emissions. Those improvements would largely be centered around improving efficiency, a move that’s in line with the Trump administration’s attempts to prop up the coal industry in the face of prevailing economic headwinds and the looming climate crisis.

In addition to arguing correctly that the ACE rule is tantamount to climate denial, James and the coalition of cities and states are also suing on the grounds that its approach is bunk and ignores the “best system” concept central to the Clean Air Act. The group also rightly points out that the rule is basically useless for reducing emissions. In fact, research indicates that some states could see carbon emissions increase under ACE. The EPA’s own analysis from the Obama years found that the Clean Power Plan would also have saved 3,600 lives annually due to co-benefits of reducing mercury and other harmful pollutants, so those are also out the window.

“My office, and this groundbreaking coalition of states and cities from across the nation, will fight back against this unlawful, do-nothing rule in order to protect our future from catastrophic climate change,” she said in a statement announcing the suit.

The lawsuit is a neat encapsulation of the polarization in the U.S. between states taking the climate crisis seriously and those that would rather do nothing (or at least very little) about it. While the current suit alleges the ACE rule doesn’t do enough, 24 states filed a lawsuit when the Clean Power Plan dropped alleging it did too much. That coalition of Republican attorneys general was led by none other than disgraced former Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt who went on to become disgraced former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt. That coalition won a stay of the Clean Power Plan after years of legal wrangling. This new battle is likely to be a long one, too.


more recommended stories

  • Smoke Has Blotted Out the Sun in São Paulo as the Amazon Burns

    Smoke from human-ignited fires across the.

  • Anti-Protest Laws Are a Sign of Weakness

    Photo: AP Here is a simple.

  • Icelanders Mourn Loss of Okjökull Glacier With Ceremony, Plaque

    The shrinking of the Okjökull glacier.

  • Big Donors Are Pulling Out of Brazil’s Amazon Fund; That Could Spell Trouble for the Rainforest

    Photo: Getty Norway and Germany have.

  • Portugal Is Using Goats to Prepare for Wildfires, But There’s Not Enough Shepherds

    Goats used to clear brush in.

  • Elizabeth Warren’s Latest Plan Tackles U.S. Injustices Against Tribes and Their Lands

    Photo: Getty Elizabeth Warren is a.

  • Invasive Pests Are Devastating American Forests at an Alarming Rate

    New findings show that invasive species.

  • Hundreds Dead, a Million Displaced as Monsoon Rains Inundate India

    Look at all that water.Photo: AP.

  • Newark’s Lead-Tainted Water Crisis Is Getting Worse

    Photo: AP When Al Moussab had.

  • Lightning Struck Near the North Pole as the Arctic Continues to Unravel

    Photo: AP In the scheme of.

  • Endangered Species Act Faces Gutting by Trump Administration

    Photo: Getty At a time when.

  • So, Salmon Cannons Are A Thing

    Photo: Jeff Mitchell (Getty) A viral.

  • At Least 22 Dead, Over a Million Reported Displaced as Typhoon Lekima Makes Landfall in Eastern China

    At least 22 deaths have been.

  • Trump Administration Authorizes ‘Cyanide Bombs’ to Kill Feral Hogs. Seriously.

    Photo: Eric Gay (AP) On Thursday.

  • Mauna Kea’s Thirty Meter Telescope Is the Latest Front in the New Fight for Indigenous Sovereignty

    Native Hawaiian activists pray at the.

  • Twin Typhoons Approach East Asia With Terrifying Force

    Super Typhoon Lekima and Typhoon KrosaGIF:.

  • Welp, Using Volcanoes to Understand Geoengineering Might Not Really Work

    Eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the.

  • If You Think 30-50 Feral Hogs Sounds Bad, Just Wait

    Photo: Eric Gay (AP) Hey, it’s.

  • A Global Water Emergency Is Right Around the Corner—Unless We Stop It

    Photo: AP When Chennai, India’s main.

  • ‘Surprise’ Ocean Heat Waves Are Becoming More Common

    Photo: Getty There are two flavors.

  • July ‘Equalled, If Not Surpassed’ Record for World’s Hottest Month

    Photo: AP Sometimes the headline says.

  • Greenland Lost 12.5 Billion Tons of Ice in Record-Breaking, Single-Day Meltdown

    Image: Sean Gallup (Getty) After Greenland.

  • Climate Change Has Made Our Stormwater Infrastructure Obsolete

    Photo: AP We are not ready.

  • This Satellite Image Shows Everything Wrong With Greenland Right Now

    Photo: Getty If you could sum.

  • California Is First State Where Utilities Must Tell Customers if Their Water Is Contaminated by Dangerous Chemicals

    Photo: Getty If you don’t know.

  • Thunderstorms, 70 MPH Winds Could Affect Up to 52 Million People in the Northeast Today

    Photo: AP Powerful storms are roaring.

  • This Coalnado Is About as 2019 as It Gets

    GIF: Meredith Garofalo (Twitter) If last.

  • Are We Watching the Arctic Pass a Tipping Point This Summer?

    Wildfires burning in Siberia on July.

  • Why We’re Not Moving Forward With Our Climate Summit

    Illustration: Illustration: G/O Media/Getty A good.

  • Vietnam Seizes 275-Pound Haul of Rhino Horns, Seven Frozen Tiger Carcasses

    Image: Elaine Thompson (AP) In a.

  • Europe’s Heat Wave Threatens Record Melting of Greenland Ice Sheet

    The Greenland ice sheetPhoto: AP A.

  • Las Vegas is Literally Crawling with Grasshoppers

    Photo: Schalk van Zuydam (AP) As.