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California sues to stop Trump rollback of Obama-era restrictions on coal-burning power plants

Phil Willon, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- California and a coalition of 21 other states on Tuesday sued to block the Trump administration's attempt to gut restrictions on coal-burning power plants, limits that were central to President Barack Obama's climate change policy.

State Attorney General Xavier Becerra said President Donald Trump's effort to dismantle 2015's Clean Power Plan undercuts efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and allows the Environmental Protection Agency to abandon its legal responsibility to crack down on air pollution.

"President Trump's attempt to gut our nation's Clean Power Plan is foolish. It's also unlawful," Becerra said. "His fossil fuel protection plan fails everyone who stands for cleaner air. And it fails our economy, which depends on clean energy now more than ever. We know what our energy future must look like, and we won't get there by following President Trump's misguided proposal. Because we're prepared to confront the climate crisis head-on, we're prepared to confront President Trump head on in court."

The federal lawsuit was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington by the 22-state coalition, as well as major cities, including Los Angeles, New York and Chicago.

The legal action is just the latest effort by California to block the Trump administration's dismantling of federal environmental protections adopted by Obama and other previous administrations.

In July, California circumvented the Trump administration's efforts to relax tailpipe pollution regulations by reaching a deal with four major automakers to gradually increase fuel efficiency standards.

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California has filed more than two dozen challenges to Trump administration policies proposed by the EPA, U.S. Department of the Interior and other federal agencies responsible for setting energy and fuel efficiency standards. The state has prevailed in at least 15 of those lawsuits, and Becerra said he expects to be victorious again challenging Trump's attempt to roll back restrictions on coal-burning power plants.

"We have confidence not just in the law but that the science and facts are with us on this case," Becerra said.

The Trump administration's proposed plan, called the Affordable Clean Energy rule, eliminates what had been an aggressive nationwide effort to reduce the energy sector's carbon footprint. The move is also designed to make good on Trump's campaign promise to revive the nation's coal industry.

After the rule was announced in June, California Gov. Gavin Newsom vowed to join with other states in taking legal action to block the new policy.


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