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CATF Celebrates Decisive DC Circuit Ruling Overturning Trump’s ACE Rule

“The D.C. Circuit has delivered President Trump a decisive blow to his backward approach to climate mitigation,” said Jay Duffy, CATF attorney representing American Lung Association, American Public Health Association, Appalachian Mountain Club, Clean Air Council, Clean Wisconsin, Conservation Law Foundation and Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy in the case. “What could be more fitting for the last full day of this Administration?”

A unanimous D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals panel vacated the ACE Rule. Two of the judges reaffirmed EPA’s duty to regulate greenhouse gas pollution from power plants under section 111 of the Clean Air Act. The third judge, a relative newcomer to the Court and a Trump appointee, agreed with the majority on throwing out the Rule, albeit for different reasons. The majority found that EPA made a mistake when it asserted that the only pollution control measures it could rely on to reduce climate emissions were those that could be bolted onto a coal plant. This mistake, the Court explained, led EPA to “turn its back on major elements of the systems that the power sector is actually and successfully using to efficiently and cost-effectively achieve the greatest emission reductions.” The Court thus vacated the Rule and remanded it to the Agency to rethink its approach to regulation.

“ACE wasn’t just bad law; it was bad policy­ ‑ a coal plant crutch in the guise of climate regulation. ACE consisted of voluntary emission guidelines based on measures that even the Trump EPA conceded would actually lead to increased emissions,” said Duffy, who argued portions of the case before the panel in October. “We will not allow the Clean Air Act to be contorted into a shield for polluters. Today’s decision is a big win for the climate. It paves the way for swift action from the incoming Administration to, once and for all, end unabated climate pollution from the aging coal fleet,” he said.

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