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Appeals Court Should Uphold Sound and Sensible Clean Power Plan

Clean air experts submit brief to U.S. Court of Appeals in support of the Clean Power Plan
Solar panels on the roof of the Kapiʻolani Medical Center parking garage in Oahu, Hawaiʻi.

Solar panels on the roof of the Kapiʻolani Medical Center parking garage in Oahu, Hawaiʻi.

Matt Mallams for Earthjustice
March 30, 2016
Washington, D.C. —

A federal Court of Appeals should uphold the Environmental Protection Agency’s sensible, legal and fair Clean Power Plan, and reject polluters’ deeply flawed arguments against the landmark plan to curb dangerous power plant carbon pollution, clean air legal experts said yesterday.

In a telephone briefing today, attorneys for Earthjustice, Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council and Sierra Club discussed the brief they are filing in support of the legality of the Clean Power Plan. The centerpiece of the administration’s climate action plan, it sets the first-ever limits on the largest source of climate-changing pollution. 

Their roughly 40-page legal brief will be filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The brief refutes claims by polluters and their allies that have filed suit to invalidate the Clean Power Plan. 

The clean air advocates’ brief outlines EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act to cut power plant carbon pollution and supports EPA’s approach to making those reductions using methods already widely used in the power industry.  It also shows that far from radically transforming the power sector, as critics claim, the Clean Power Plan will build on trends already underway, expanding clean energy and reducing the burning of polluting fossil fuels.

"While fossil fuel interests might wish otherwise, time runs only forward, not back,” said Howard I. Fox, counsel for Earthjustice. “Steady, unstoppable progress to a clean energy future is already underway, and the Clean Power Plan builds on that progress with readily achievable cuts in the carbon pollution that is threatening our climate and communities." 

Sean Donahue, counsel for Environmental Defense Fund, said, “The Clean Power Plan has a solid foundation in America’s clean air laws. It’s also supported by a robust record, and is vitally important to our efforts to protect the health and safety of our communities from climate change. We look forward to presenting the strongest possible case for the Clean Power Plan to the court.”

Joanne Spalding, Chief Climate Counsel at the Sierra Club, said, “The Clean Power Plan offers significant public health and economic benefits, enjoys wide majorities of support across the country, and is rooted in the Supreme Court's 2011 decision finding that the EPA has the authority under the Clean Air Act to limit carbon pollution from power plants. We are confident the Plan will ultimately prevail in the courts and that its full benefits will be implemented nationwide.”

David Doniger, lead attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said, “The polluters and their allies are peddling a grab-bag of meritless legal arguments with one desperate goal: hobbling EPA’s ability under the Clean Air Act to cut carbon pollution from power plants, the largest source of climate-changing pollution. The Clean Power Plan stands on solid legal ground. And it’s a fair and flexible plan for states and the power industry to address the central environmental threat of our time before it’s too late.”

The groups, together with a coalition of climate and clean air advocacy groups, are filing their intervenors’ brief on Tuesday, and it will be available online.


Daveon Coleman, Earthjustice, (202) 745-5222

Elizabeth Heyd, Natural Resource Defense Council, (202) 289-2424

Sharyn Stein, Environmental Defense Fund (202) 572-3396

Jake Thompson, Natural Resource Defence Council, (202) 289-2387

Brian Willis, Sierra Club, (202) 675-2386

Overruling Trump.