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December 11, 2018

Miller, coalition urge EPA to follow climate change report

Rollback of Clean Power and Clean Car rules would increase pollution

DES MOINES -- Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller joined a 29-member coalition on Tuesday calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to heed the National Climate Assessment and immediately withdraw its proposals to roll back rules limiting pollution from power plants and cars. 

In a letter delivered to Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, the coalition argues that the increases in climate change pollution resulting from these rollbacks will worsen the numerous harms detailed in the assessment, the federal government’s authoritative analysis of climate science. The letter was signed by 20 states and nine local governments.

 “The assessment makes clear that we need to act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” the letter states.

Iowa has already filed extensive comments with the EPA objecting to the rollbacks of the Clean Power Plan and the Clean Car Standards. Its comments assert that climate change increases Iowa’s propensity for flooding and droughts, creates challenges for the state’s agricultural economy, and poses risks to public health.  

“The Trump administration cannot ignore its own assessment,” Miller said. “We need meaningful action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

The coalition’s letter references the grave concerns voiced by the National Climate Assessment over current and the projected risks to health, environment, economy and national security.  These include “[i]mpacts from climate change on extreme weather and climate-related events, air quality, and the transmission of disease through insects and pests, food, and water increasingly threaten the health and well-being of the American people, particularly populations that are already vulnerable.”

 The letter quotes the assessment’s caution that “[i]n the absence of significant global mitigation action and regional adaptation efforts, rising temperatures, sea level rise, and changes in extreme events are expected to increasingly disrupt and damage critical infrastructure and property, labor productivity, and the vitality of our communities.” Further, the letter quotes the assessment’s conclusion that that “[b]y the end of this century, thousands of American lives could be saved and hundreds of billions of dollars in health-related economic benefits gained each year under a pathway of lower greenhouse gas emissions.”  

 In November,  a coalition of 26 states, counties, and cities urged the Trump EPA to abandon its proposed replacement of the Clean Power Plan, the first nationwide limits on climate change pollution from existing fossil-fueled power plants, one of its largest sources. In extensive comments filed with EPA, the coalition charged that the proposed replacement rule is replete with factual inaccuracies, analytical errors, and legal flaws and, accordingly, concludes that the rule  —  if adopted — would be unlawful.

 Miller noted that Iowa was well prepared to comply with the Clean Power Plan. Wind provided 37 percent of Iowa’s total electric generation in 2017, a larger share than in any other state. In addition, coal's share of net electricity generation in Iowa declined from 76 percent in 2008 to 45 percent in 2017

“Smart federal and state policies have contributed to the rapid growth of renewable energy in Iowa,” Miller said.

In October, a coalition of 21 attorneys general, states, state agencies, and cities in demanding that the EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration withdraw their proposal to roll back national Clean Car Standards. In comments submitted to EPA and NHTSA, the coalition highlighted the consumer, climate, and public health benefits of the current standards, was well as the rollback proposal’s numerous flaws, its use of faulty assumptions, incorrect modeling, selective data, and its misunderstandings of consumer behavior.

Conservatively, based on the EPA’s own figures, the proposed rollback of the Clean Car Standards would increase emissions of climate change pollution by 540 million metric tons from model year 2022-2025 vehicles alone, and the Clean Power Plan’s planned rollback would cause emission increases of up to 55 million metric tons in 2030. Together, these increases in climate change pollution for those years alone would equal the estimated annual emissions of 127 million gasoline-powered cars or 147 coal-burning power plants.

In addition to Iowa, the coalition’s letter was signed by the attorneys general of New York, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota (by and through its Minnesota Pollution Control Agency), New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia, the County Attorney of Broward, Fla., and the city attorneys/corporation counsels of Boulder, Colo.; Chicago; Los Angeles; New York; Oakland, Calif.; Philadelphia; San Francisco; and South Miami.

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