The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency remains solidly behind its pending Clean Power Plan to help mitigate climate change, despite a recent setback from the U.S. Supreme Court that affected a different EPA air program.
Although describing the recent court decision as “disappointing,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said her agency was still on track to finalize its massive – and controversial – plan to reduce the carbon pumped out by the nation’s power plants. The plan was announced last year and is an attempt to partner with states to reduce the amount of carbon pollution pumped into the air, thus spurring a transition from carbon-heavy coal-fired plants to cleaner sources of energy.
The plan has been in the rule-making phase for months, and has repeatedly come under attack from many state governments as well as congressional Republicans who want to rein in the agency.
Last week, a divided Supreme Court ruled that the EPA acted unreasonably by not considering cost at the start of its decision-making process as it set out to regulate mercury and other toxins emitted from coal-burning power plants.
While both the mercury rule and the Clean Power Plan deal with air protections, McCarthy said the court’s ruling was narrowly tailored to address a specific aspect of the mercury rule. Speaking at a Tuesday event organized by The Christian Science Monitor, she also noted that the court “did not question our authority to actually control toxic air pollution.”
“It did not vacate the mercury and air toxics standard,” she said. “It is still in effect today.”
She added: “While we’re disappointed with the Supreme Court’s ruling, we’re still confident that we are on track to cut pollution to protect our families and our communities’ health.”
Attempts to link the mercury rule and the Clean Power Plan aren’t valid, she said.
“EPA is still committed to finalizing the Clean Power Plan,” she said. “So making a connection between the mercury and air toxics standard decision and the Clean Power Plan is comparing apples and oranges. Last week’s ruling will not affect our efforts. We are still on track to produce that plan this summer and it will cut carbon pollution that is fueling climate change from power plants.”