Illinois is among nearly two dozen states fighting a new Trump administration rule, saying it won't be effective at cleaning up pollution from power plants.
The Obama-era Clean Power Plan set nationwide targets to reduce carbon emissions from power plants. But the new Affordable Clean Energy Rule or 'ACE' instead allows states to choose whether to reduce emissions and by how much.
Ann Mesnikoff is federal legislative director with the Chicago-based Environmental Law & Policy Center, which is among 10 organizations that filed a petition claiming the Clean Power Plan was unlawfully repealed.
"The rule from Trump administration doesn't actually require any reductions from these power plants and in fact, really gives them an out," says Mesnikoff. "So, it's really problematic in terms of what the Clean Air Act should require from coal-fired power plants. This rule is a real fail."
The 22 states filed a lawsuit against the EPA this week, arguing the replacement plan doesn't use the "best system of emissions reduction" as required by the Clean Air Act. Chicago and six other cities also are included in the lawsuit.
Mesnikoff contends the rule discourages a clean-energy economy and reverses course on progress to reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change. She adds the Great Lakes region is already suffering extreme weather events spurred by climate change, such as drought, flooding and heat waves, as well as toxic algal blooms in bodies of water.
"So, climate change is an enormous problem that we need to tackle and we have the solutions at hand," says Mesnikoff. "Wind and solar power are tremendous opportunities to generate clean electricity. The Clean Power Plan helped drive those kinds of solutions, and the rule from the Trump Administration is moving us in the wrong direction."
Supporters argue states need more flexibility in regulating energy matters, but opponents say the new rule discourages the pursuit of clean-energy policies. An EPA spokesperson said the agency stands behind the rule and believes it will be upheld in court.