U.S. Legal Advocacy
Since its founding, CATF has relied on a tenacious team of lawyers who apply the principles of U.S. law to the fight for climate action, clean air protections, and the development of critical carbon-free technologies.
CATF’s legal team:
- Litigates on behalf of non-profit clients in U.S. courts, seeking cleaner energy systems
- Develops comprehensive comments on proposed Executive Branch regulations
- Drafts statutory language
- Analyzes the legal landscape and provides strategic, tactical, legal, and regulatory advice across the organization, and to our clients
To put the U.S. rule of law to work decarbonizing the energy system while protecting people and the planet from harmful air pollution.
Our impact in U.S. legal advocacy
Scope of Work
- Litigation: CATF attorneys represent other non-profit client organizations in administrative and judicial proceedings, seeking the reduction of climate and other pollution.
- Regulation: The CATF legal team works to develop comprehensive comments on Executive Branch rules related to climate, clean air, and their effects on public health.
- Statutory drafting and advocacy: The CATF legal team drafts statutory language and supports advocacy around legislative changes aimed at decarbonizing energy systems.
- Analysis: CATF’s attorneys analyze the legal landscape to flag threats and identify opportunities in existing laws and rules, supporting projects across the organization. This work is expansive – it includes leveraging the Clean Air Act and other statutes for public health and climate pollution reduction, working on the licensing of nuclear fusion generators, and advising on the operation of tax credits to stimulate the commercialization of carbon-capture and sequestration technologies.
- Advice: CATF’s attorneys work across the organization to provide tactical, strategic, regulatory, and legal advice to each team, as well as providing advice to our non-profit clients and allies.
- Mercury and other air toxics emissions reductions from coal-fired and oil-fired power plants, were achieved through a regulatory and litigation effort that began in the late ’90s and supported the final U.S. EPA Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), which were finalized in 2012 and went into effect fully in 2016. We continue to defend these rules.
- The first-ever carbon dioxide emission limits on new coal-fired power plants, set at a level based on partial carbon capture and sequestration, were finalized in 2015 after years of advocacy.
- The first direct regulation of methane emissions from the oil and gas industry.
- Provided expert legal and technical input and defense during the creation, passage, and challenge to the Clean Power Plan, a landmark climate regulation aimed at reducing carbon emissions from U.S. electricity generation.
CATF’s legal team continues to defend the Clean Air Act as a source of authority for the regulation and control of climate and other air pollution, against repeated repeal and rollback attempts. Our work in pursuit of the objective of achieving a zero-emissions U.S. electric power sector by mid-century includes:
- Successfully challenging the Trump Administration’s “Dirty Power Plan” rule. Read more about the overturning of Trump’s ACE rule here.
- Defending strong clean air and climate regulations for power plants, including the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), which has delivered emissions reductions in power plant mercury alone of nearly 90 percent, an 86 percent reduction in power plant emissions of seriously toxic metals, while also lowering power plant acid gas emissions by more than 95 percent, compared with pre-MATS levels. Because of the acid gas reductions, MATS also yielded substantial reductions in fine particulate matter, exposure to which also causes significant respiratory harms.
- Successfully defending, and continuing to press for the tightening of, U.S. EPA rules under the “good neighbor” provision of the Clean Air Act, which require reductions in emissions of ozone precursors that cross state lines, causing harm in states downwind of the sources of the pollution. Those rules have resulted in significant reductions in smog and soot across the Eastern U.S., and promise similar reductions in the Midwest and Western states.
- Successfully opposing the Trump Administration’s efforts to censor scientific and economic studies that form the basis of informed regulatory decision making, particularly those relating to air pollution health effects, climate change impacts, and the social costs of greenhouse gas emissions.
Our experts working in legal advocacy
Wendy Jacobs Legal Fellowship
The Wendy Jacobs Legal Fellowship is awarded annually with the opportunity for a one-year extension to an exemplary candidate who is a recent law school graduate with an interest in climate change and air quality public health law. As part of the Clean Air Task Force team, the Wendy Jacobs Fellow will work with the legal director and attorneys, and other program staff within all phases of our legal and litigation efforts to advance climate and clean air solutions.
Contact us for more information if you’re interested in applying.
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