Senate Passes Legislation in Misguided Attempt to Undermine Clean Power Plan

Statement by Robert Cowin, Director of Government Affairs for the Climate and Energy Program

Published Nov 18, 2015

WASHINGTON (November 18, 2015)—Late last night, the U.S. Senate voted 52-46 on legislation aimed at killing the Clean Power Plan, the nation’s first-ever limits on carbon pollution from power plants. These legislative proposals would strike down Clean Air Act standards that limit carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants (S.J. Res. 24) as well as from new or modified power plants (S.J. Res. 23). Seemingly, those opposed to the Clean Power Plan have lost some traction given that a similar vote in March to halt implementation of the plan passed the Senate 57-43.

Below is a statement by Robert Cowin, director of government affairs for the Climate and Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

“It’s unfortunate that some in Congress have chosen to ignore the mounting risks of climate change, which are grounded in science, to instead side with fossil fuel special interests.

“Our transition to a clean energy economy is already underway. The Clean Power Plan ensures we make this transition in a fair, cost-effective way that builds off of proven, successful policies many states have already put into action. Additionally, the plan gives states the flexibility needed to expand the role for renewable energy and energy efficiency in their energy mix in a way best suited to their individual resources. States can also take advantage of carbon trading programs, if they choose.

“We will continue to work with states to help them comply with the Clean Power Plan by taking early action to invest in and prioritize renewables and efficiency—the best solutions to our growing climate crisis.”

Companion efforts to undermine the Clean Power Plan (H.J Res. 71 and H.J. Res. 72) passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee today. President Obama has promised to veto these resolutions should they reach his desk. Based on today’s vote count, it is extremely unlikely Congress would have the votes to override his veto.

In December, the world’s nations will be meeting in Paris to craft an international climate agreement. The Clean Power Plan is central to driving down U.S. carbon emissions and demonstrates U.S. leadership and commitment towards reaching a strong global agreement that helps meet our climate goals.

Click here to view States of Progress, an August 2015 analyis from UCS, which shows that the majority of states, 31, have already made commitments that will put them more than halfway toward meeting their 2022 Clean Power Plan benchmarks, with 21 of these states set to surpass them. Similarly, 20 states are on track to be more than halfway toward meeting their 2030 Clean Power Plan targets, with 16 states set to surpass them.

Another misleading study on the Clean Power Plan was recently released by the coal industry and may be referenced by members of Congress during debate on this issue. Please check out yesterday's UCS blog post that fact checks this study.