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Sept. 27, 2018 by Daniel Farber

The Case for Co-Benefits

Cross-posted from LegalPlanet.

The Trump administration is moving toward the view, long popular in industry, that when it regulates a pollutant, EPA can consider only the health impacts of that particular pollutant – even when the regulation will also reduce other harmful pollutants. This idea is especially important in climate change regulation because cutting carbon emissions almost always results in reductions of other pollutants like particulates that are dangerous to health. This may seem like a minor technical issue. But by ignoring the "co-benefits" of cutting carbon, the administration wants to justify drastic weakening of existing regulations. The administration's laser-like focus on the regulated pollutant is not consistent with the Clean Air Act, the legal basis for regulating carbon, or with general principles of law.

The courts have interpreted the Clean Air Act and other environmental statutes to require broad consideration of environmental impacts almost from the beginning. In Portland Cement Association v. Ruckelshaus, the D.C. Circuit held in 1973 that EPA did not need to do an environmental impact statement when issuing a § 111 standard of performance under § 111 of the Clean Air Act. The reason was that: "Section 111 of the Clean Air Act requires a 'standard of …

Aug. 30, 2018 by Joel Mintz
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This story was originally published by The Revelator.

In his first 19 months in office, Donald Trump has repeatedly defied established presidential norms — so flagrantly that it almost obscures the many ways he's changed national policies for the worse. But despite all the scandals and mean-spirited tweets, it's likely that his most enduring impact will be his administration's systematic, reckless dismantling of ongoing efforts to curtail human-caused climate change.

The miseries of global climate disruption are already upon us. During the current decade, the world has experienced record heat waves, as well as intermittent periods of extraordinary cold, devastating floods, prolonged droughts, dangerous wildfires and large and powerful hurricanes. Despite these alarm bells and urgent warnings from scientists around the globe, the volume of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere by human activity has continued to rise each year.

One clear example of …

Aug. 29, 2018 by Alice Kaswan
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For disadvantaged communities, the so-called Affordable Clean Energy Rule (ACE) falls far short of the protections and opportunities included in the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration rule that the Trump EPA is now attempting to repeal and replace.

One of the Clean Power Plan's (CPP) essential features was its recognition that the electricity sector operates as an interconnected system. Because of its system-wide approach, the CPP could achieve significant reductions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants by encouraging utilities to shift from pollution-intensive coal to less-polluting alternatives, including natural gas and renewables. In contrast, the ACE rule focuses narrowly on coal-fired power plants, considering only facility-specific "heat-rate improvements," thus sacrificing a host of other ways to both conserve energy and prevent pollution. The proposed rule also fails to prompt states to engage in the more comprehensive and longer-term planning that is necessary to achieve significant …

Aug. 28, 2018 by Daniel Farber
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Cross-posted from LegalPlanet.

You've already heard a lot about Trump's pro-coal ACE rule. You're likely to keep hearing about it, off and on, throughout the next couple of years, and maybe longer. I've set out a rough timetable below, and at the end I discuss some implications.

Step 1: The Rulemaking 

Aug. 2018 Notice of proposed rule issued (clock for comments starts with publication in the Federal Register)

Oct.-Nov. 2018 Comment period closes (60 days after clock starts, unless there are extensions)

Feb.-March 2019 EPA issues final rule (based on time between the advance notice of proposed rule and the actual proposal; could be longer)

Step 2: Judicial Review

Aug.-Sept. 2019 Oral argument in D.C. Cir. (based on scheduling in Clean Power Plan case for three-judge panel argument) The big issue in the case will be whether EPA is limited, as the Trump …

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