At Haskell’s Beach this morning, a group of state attorneys general made a stand in front of the Pacific Ocean to tell the Trump administration that they would fight the repeal of the Clean Power Plan. Their host, California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra, called Trump’s Affordable Clean Energy Rule, announced today to replace the Clean Power Plan, a “toothless substitute” that was a “fossil fuel protection plan.”
The Clean Power Plan had the goal to reduce emissions from power plants to 35 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2030. Trump’s plan sets no goals, according to the Los Angeles Times, and instead leaves it up to individual states, a strategy supported in coal-producing states. However, the Clean Air Act, from which the Clean Power Plan emanated, requires the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, the Times stated, and legal challenges are likely for the new rule. New York Attorney General Leticia James announced today her intention to sue the administration over the “Dirty Power” plan, stating: “This catastrophic rule will prop up dirty and expensive coal power plants, undercut clean and sustainable electricity, and leave New Yorkers and all other Americans to foot the bill … [a] clear violation of the Clean Air Act … .”
Although the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan was challenged repeatedly in court, Iowa took it to heart. Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller joined Becerra at the beach at the Bacara Resort this morning, coming from a state that had elected Donald Trump by 51 percent. But “the Clean Power Plan had been working very well in Iowa,” he said, as the state increased renewable energy sources and worked to decrease dependence on coal. Iowa increased wind energy production to 34 percent in 2018 from 31 percent in 2015. And Iowa was spurred by the ill effects of climate change, “from the Mississippi River flooding and corn planting way behind,” Miller said. Iowa is a leading producer of ethanol, made from corn, and also expends large amounts of natural gas to dry its corn after harvest.
Ocean acidification was affecting her state, said Oregon AG Ellen Rosenblum, which has large shellfish and seafood industries. And in a state where rivers and dams contribute 40 percent of its electricity through hydropower, recent droughts imperiled clean power production, as well as affecting the timber industry and agriculture, and increasing forest fire dangers. To illustrate her point, Rosenblum described how Eastern Oregon’s agricultural water supply went down by a third, pools in the upper Klamath River became toxic with algal blooms — “You couldn’t even touch the water,” she said — and the Columbia River had a striking decrease in its salmon spawn. Oregon, about 30 percent dependent on coal for electricity, was phasing it out in favor of more renewables, she said. Speaking briefly about the Trump administration’s silencing of scientists, Rosenblum said, “They’re going to great lengths to keep scientists from talking about a climate change ‘worst case scenario,’ but we’ll have a ‘worst case scenario’ if they continue on this path.”
Drought was an issue in Colorado, too, said Phil Weiser, the attorney general for the state, who joined the group at Haskell’s. He amplified Rosenblum’s remark that an unseasonably warm spring was melting the snowpack too early, adding to the state’s worries in drought years. “Climate change is real,” he said. “We see it every day.” Colorado, known for its ski resorts, saw its “snowpack decline dramatically in the past four years,” Weiser said. It was up to the states to take up the Paris Accord since the Trump administration had abandoned it, he said: “We have a moral, economic, and ecological imperative to lead the way when Washington is failing to do so.”
Becerra issued a challenge, saying the Trump administration lacked the courage to take on climate change, which a coalition of states would take up instead for people’s health and the environment. Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have joined California to oppose Trump’s Affordable Clean Energy Rule, as well as the cities of Boulder, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, and South Miami.