Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman issued the following statement today on arguments before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s “Clean Power Plan,” a rule requiring fossil-fueled power plants to cut their emissions of greenhouse gases pursuant to the Clean Air Act.

“Today, my office is leading a coalition of 25 states, cities, and counties in defense of the Clean Power Plan, regulations that will, for the time ever, limit climate change pollution from our nation’s largest source, fossil-fueled power plants.  In our states, we have demonstrated the opponents’ ‘doom and gloom’ predictions are wrong – our states have shown that power plant pollution can be cut dramatically, while holding the line on utility bills, maintaining grid reliability, and adding billions of dollars and thousands of jobs to our economies. I look forward to the Court upholding the Clean Power Plan, and ensuring that we will continue to take essential actions in fighting the unprecedented health, environmental, and economic impacts of climate change.”    

In November 2015, the Attorney General, leading a coalition of 25 states, cities and counties, intervened in defense of the Clean Power Plan against legal challenge.   Joining in the coalition are states of New York, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, the District of Columbia, the cities of New York, Boulder, Chicago, Philadelphia, South Miami and Broward County, Florida.

The Clean Power Plan is the culmination of a decade-long effort by New York and partnering states and cities to require mandatory cuts in the emissions of climate change pollution from fossil fuel burning power plants under the Clean Air Act. The Clean Power Plan, along with the companion rule on new, modified, and reconstructed power plants, will control these emissions by setting limits on the amount of climate change pollution that power plants can emit.  The rule for existing plants is expected to eliminate as much climate change pollution as is emitted by more than 160 million cars a year – or 70% of the nation’s passenger cars.

EPA adopted the Clean Power Plan through a multi-year stakeholder process that drew heavily on the experience of states and utilities in reducing power plant greenhouse gas emissions. A number of states, including New York, have already taken a leading role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by moving forward with their own programs.

New York and eight other states are part of the “Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative” (RGGI), which has reduced regional carbon dioxide emissions from the electricity sector by 40 percent from 2005 levels. The RGGI states have shown that by a combination of encouraging shifts to less carbon-intensive fossil fuel generation, increasing reliance on renewable energy, and using proceeds to invest in energy efficiency, substantial reductions in carbon dioxide emissions are possible over a relatively short period, while supporting economic goals and maintaining grid reliability. An independent analysis found that in the first three years of the RGGI program, the reinvestment of allowance auction proceeds is reducing total energy bills across the region by $1.3 billion and adding $1.6 billion to the regional economy, creating an estimated 16,000 jobs in the process.