Environmental coalition takes on Trump coal push

By: - August 16, 2019 11:15 am

Clean Wisconsin is joining nine other environmental groups to challenge the Trump Administration’s Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule. A lawsuit filed by the collective argues the president’s policy “unlawfully sidesteps the Clean Air Act by relaxing emission standards.”

The court action, filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court, comes as 22 Democratic-led states sue the Trump Administration for weakening coal industry regulations. Director of Energy and Air Programs for Clean Wisconsin Scott Blankman called the ACE rule, “a desperate and illegal attempt by the Trump Administration to prop up outdated and dirty coal.”

Enacted in August 2018, the Affordable Clean Energy rule claimed it would allow states to continue, “environmental progress while fulfilling President Trump’s goal of energy dominance.” It followed Trump’s executive order 13873, which directed federal agencies to review so-called “burdensome regulation.”

In a press release, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) described the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan as, “overly prescriptive and burdensome.” The agency said the new rule, “empowers states, promotes energy independence and facilitates economic growth and job creation.”

Slashing the Clean Power Plan, which would have prompted a shift away from coal power, certainly lines up with Trump’s campaign promises. Opponents, however, say it’s a dangerous attempt to deregulate a dying industry to try to bring it back to life.

“Wisconsin utilities understand that there are cleaner and cheaper ways to produce electricity,” said Blankman in a Clean Wisconsin press release. “Many of them are already replacing coal plants with renewable energy sources like wind and solar. This rule only slows our progress towards clean energy.”

Donald Trump has long linked the issue of climate change with the coal industry’s decline. In 2016, the then-candidate said, “the government should not pick winners and losers, instead it should remove obstacles to exploration.” Framing climate change as a politicized hoax Trump said, “political activists with extreme agendas will no longer write the rules.”.

Nevertheless, some of those very activists counter that Trump’s rhetoric is what’s extreme. Joeanne Spalding, chief climate counsel for the Sierra Club, re-named the ACE “the Dirty Power Plan.” The group, like Clean Wisconsin, is also part of the coalition of environmental groups now pushing a lawsuit.

In a press release, Spalding said the Trump Administration’s, “deadly plan provides no accountability and no standards” for carbon pollution reduction.

“We all need clean air,” said Blankman. “It’s critical we act now to reduce carbon emissions to avoid the worst effects of climate change.”


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Isiah Holmes
Isiah Holmes

Isiah Holmes is a journalist and videographer, and a lifelong resident of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His writing has been featured in Urban Milwaukee, Isthmus, Milwaukee Stories, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Services, Pontiac Tribune, the Progressive Magazine, Al Jazeera, and other outlets.