(CNS) -- An Environmental Protection Agency decision to roll back an Obama-era regulation
to curb carbon dioxide emissions from power plants met with disapproval and pledges
to work to keep key components of the plan in place from Catholic
said that rescinding the Clean Power Plan, President Barack Obama's signature policy to
meet U.S. commitments under the Paris climate accord to limit global warming,
would adversely affect the health of people around the country, especially in
low-income communities, and would harm the environment.
concern is that if greenhouse gas emissions are not limited, thousands of people
will become sickened or even die from increased air pollution in communities located
near coal-fired power plants.
environmental advocates also expressed apprehension that not cutting power plant emissions
would hasten climate change and negatively impact the planet. Coal-fired power
plants are the nation's largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.
continues to be the way that the Trump administration has decided to tackle climate
change, which is to pull back on just about everything the previous administration
has done," said Dan
Misleh, executive director of the Catholic Climate Covenant. "It's
unfortunate. It's wrong. If they do try to replace it with something, I hope
it's as robust as the Clean Power Plan, but I think that's unlikely."
said it would be important to focus on the impact of power plants, which often are
located near low-income communities, on the health of nearby residents.
not just about CO2, which is an enormously important greenhouse gas to curb,
but also pollutants to come out of these smokestacks that are harmful to people.
We want to raise those moral concerns as well as the environmental ones,"
Misleh told Catholic News Service.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt
formally took the step to begin repealing the plan by signing a new rule in Washington
Oct. 10, a day after meeting with coal miners in Hazard, Kentucky.
his intended action to the miners, Pruitt said the plan exceeded federal law and
that the Clean Power Plan favors energy sources that produce fewer carbon
emissions to the detriment of coal. He has maintained the government should
remain neutral while the market determines which energy-producing sources are
war on coal is over," Pruitt said.
Patrick Carolan, executive director
of the Franciscan Action Network, disputed Pruitt's suggestion that
rescinding the plan would resurrect mining jobs.
misleading and outright fraud that this is going to protect coal jobs,"
Carolan told CNS. "Coal is going the way of the horse and buggy."
urged the administration to focus on transitioning out-of-work miners to
positions in growing renewable energy industries.
strongly believe this is an important right-to-life issue," he added,
saying the faith community has been waiting for Pruitt's announcement.
"It's important for us in the faith community, particularly those who
believe in the consistent ethic of life, how we can put this up as a life
Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des
Moines, Iowa, said that his state was moving forward in
implementing renewable energy programs with or without the rule.
credited Iowa for having a high rate of renewable energy usage per capita and
said the ongoing development of wind and solar energy sources has a strong
economic impact in the state.
are determined to go forward, that this is the future," Bishop Pates told CNS
Oct. 10. "It's not only a matter of clean air, and addressing climate change,
but it's also has a strong economic impact."
Diocese of Des Moines was one of about 30 faith-based organizations to sign on
to an amicus brief supporting the Clean Power Plan as it was challenged in
federal court by Republican attorneys general soon after it was unveiled in 2015.
strong standard to help curb carbon emissions has been on the agenda of the
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in recent years and the Clean Power Plan
was welcomed when it was introduced. Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the bishops'
Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, said in an Oct. 10 statement
that it was unfortunate the Trump administration had not proposed "an
adequate alternative" to the now-rescinded plan.
already withdrawn from the Paris climate agreement, this change in course by
the EPA solidifies the already troubling approach of our nation in addressing
climate change and places at risk many people, including the poor who can least
bear the consequences of inaction," Bishop Dewane said.
states have already made great progress toward carbon mitigation goals under
the CPP, making this decision even more difficult," the statement
continued. "Pope Francis' encyclical, 'Laudato Si',' calls us to action in
caring for our carbon home.
"A national carbon standard is
a critical step for the U.S. at this time. Facing this shift from the Trump administration,
our leaders should heed the Holy Father's moral call and seek new legislative solutions
that will help the nation and world 'hear the cry of the earth and the cry of
the poor' once more."
planned to organize members and parishioners to offer comments on the new rule,
which was to be published in the Federal Register.
Clean Power Plan set standards for reducing
carbon dioxide emissions to 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. It allowed
states and utilities to develop methods to reach the goals based on local needs
who was attorney general in Oklahoma before joining the EPA this year
and had strong ties to the state's fossil fuel industry, has opposed
the plan since its introduction. He was among more than two dozen
general who challenged the regulation in federal court.
of the plan has been on hold since the U.S. Supreme Court in February 2016
froze the rule until the case is resolved in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the
District of Columbia Circuit. In April, the appeals court put the case on hold
for 60 days after the Trump administration requested an indefinite freeze on proceedings.
The court is weighing arguments on whether to put a long-term hold on the case
or simply close it.
the lawsuit, many states continued to work on plans to reduce coal plant
emissions and some have made significant steps toward meeting Clean Power Plan
goals. Numerous coal-fired plants have been retired or retrofitted to use cleaner
burning and less costly natural gas. Some power companies also have turned to
renewable energy sources under state mandates.