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Clean Power Plan Update

Clean Power Plan Update

In June 2014, as part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed new carbon pollution standards for power plants under the Clean Air Act. After more than two million public comments, the EPA issued the final rule for the Clean Power Plan in August 2015, setting the first-ever national limits on carbon pollution from power plants. The Clean Power Plan aims to reduce emissions from power plants, our nation’s largest source of carbon emissions, 32% below 2005 levels by 2030. The Clean Power Plan has the potential to develop a clean energy economy, create new jobs and reduce health risks from carbon pollution.

Each state received different emissions reduction targets, and following the release of the rule they were tasked with creating an implementation plan to reach those targets.  Twenty-eight states are challenging the Clean Power Plan in court, arguing that the EPA overstepped its legal authority under the Clean Air Act and that the plan infringes on states’ rights and the EPA doesn’t have the authority to force states to change their energy systems. Currently the case is in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit awaiting in oral arguments in June 2016 and a decision later this summer. In February 2016, the Supreme Court decided to stay the rule, meaning that states do not have to work on their implementation plans to reduce emissions until after the D.C. court decisions in summer 2016.

At this point in time, nineteen states are continuing to create implementation plans to reduce emissions and comply with the rule, eight states are assessing how they will respond to the Supreme Court’s stay, twenty states have suspended all work on the developing a compliance plan and three states are exempt from the rule. Click here to find where your state stands on compliance planning for the Clean Power Plan.

The Religious Action Center has long advocated in support of policies to reduce our impact on climate change, including the Clean Power Plan. When the rule first came out, the RAC submitted comments highlighting the importance of sustainable and equitable policy that promotes renewable energy and ensures low income communities and communities of color, who often face the undue burden of climate change, access the benefits of the clean power plan. Additionally, over the past two years, representatives from the RAC, including RAC Associate Director Barbara Weinstein and former Legislative Assistant Sophie Golomb, have testified numerous times at the EPA in support of the plan.   

As a Jewish community we are reminded, “Do not destroy my world, for if you do, there will be nobody after you to make it right again” (Midrash Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:13). Not only will our actions impact future generations, and ensure that they have the same access to environmental resources as we do, but they impact our daily lives. The EPA has found that there will be an estimated 150,000 fewer asthma attacks in children, 2,700-6,600 fewer premature deaths, 3,300 fewer heart attacks and as a result, 310,000 fewer lost work days, all due to estimated reduction of carbon emissions from the Clean Power Plan.

We must take action today to ensure the health of our planet and all of its inhabitants.


Rachel Landman is the assistant director of 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy in Byfield, MA, where she ran the inaugural summer Israel program, which focused on exploring Israel through the lens of science and technology. She holds a degree in biology from Hamilton College and served as an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. She is an alumna of URJ Crane Lake Camp and grew up at Brooklyn Heights Synagogue in Brooklyn, NY. 

Rachel Landman

Published: 4/21/2016