Press Releases

Senate Democrats to EPA: Show Your Work on Clean Power Plan Repeal

19 Senators press Pruitt on agency’s use of skewed science and math to justify repealing the 2015 Clean Power Plan

Oct 26 2017

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, 19 Senate Democrats, led by Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt asking for more information on the agency’s decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan. The proposal, released by the agency earlier this month, relies heavily on skewed scientific and mathematical data in order to justify repealing the Clean Power Plan.

The senators write, “Our review of the 2017 Repeal proposal reveals significant deficiencies associated with the cost-benefit analysis used to support the 2015 Rule’s repeal. At seemingly every turn, the 2017 Repeal proposal uses mathematical sleights of hand to over-state the costs of industry compliance with the 2015 Rule and under-state the benefits that will be lost if the 2017 Repeal is finalized. Denying the science and fabricating the math may satisfy the agency’s paperwork requirements, but doing so will not satisfy the requirements of the law, nor will it slow the increase in frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, the inexorable rise in sea levels, or the other dire effects of global warming that our planet is already experiencing. It will also not improve our standing in the international community or bring certainty to power markets as states plan for their future energy needs.”

The senators continued, “Your rejection of the scientific consensus that greenhouse gas pollution causes global warming is well-known. Additionally, we continue to await your response to the April 7, 2017 letter requesting more details about your views related to the cause of global warming and the agency’s plan to repeal and replace the 2015 Clean Power Plan Rule. Our review of the 2017 Repeal proposal only heightens our concerns.”

This is not the first time the EPA, under Scott Pruitt’s leadership, has attempted to skew the facts to achieve a desired outcome. In April, reports showed that the analysis of EPA career staff regarding pending legislation was eliminated entirely from the official comments that the agency ultimately submitted to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Just last month, reports in The New York Times revealed that political appointees at EPA directed career scientists to delete the Clean Water Rule’s $500 million in economic benefits from a regulatory package that the agency submitted to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review. EPA has not responded to Senate inquiries on either of these reports.

The senators requested all documents, including but not limited to emails, memos, meeting notes and correspondence, sent or received by EPA that are related to EPA’s cost-benefit analysis for its 2017 Repeal of the Clean Power Plan no later than December 1, 2017.

Senator Carper was joined in the letter by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.).

The text of the letter to Administrator Pruitt can be found below and in PDF form here.

October 26, 2017

The Honorable Scott Pruitt

Administrator

Environmental Protection Agency

1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Washington, DC 20004

 

Dear Administrator Pruitt:

We write to request additional information regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) October 10, 2017 proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan.  Our review of the 2017 Repeal proposal  reveals significant deficiencies associated with the cost-benefit analysis used to support the 2015 Rule’s repeal.  At seemingly every turn, the 2017 Repeal proposal uses mathematical sleights of hand to over-state the costs of industry compliance with the 2015 Rule and under-state the benefits that will be lost if the 2017 Repeal is finalized.  Denying the science and fabricating the math may satisfy the agency’s paperwork requirements, but doing so will not satisfy the requirements of the law, nor will it slow the increase in frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, the inexorable rise in sea levels, or the other dire effects of global warming that our planet is already experiencing.  It will also not improve our standing in the international community or bring certainty to power markets as states plan for their future energy needs.

Specifically, we note that:

•           Although the World Health Organization has stated  that “small particle pollution has health impacts even at very low concentrations – indeed no threshold has been identified below which no damage to health is observed,” the 2017 Repeal asserts that there may not be any health effects associated with exposure to soot particles below certain thresholds. This dramatic departure from the use of the best-available, peer-reviewed science has the effect of lowering the health co-benefits of the 2015 Rule from $14-$34 billion  by 2030 and 3,600 avoided deaths, to the 2017 Repeal’s estimate of $1.3-$4.5 billion and 120-420 avoided deaths.

•           Although the 2015 Rule projected compliance costs of the Clean Power Plan to be between $5.1 and $8.4 billion by 2030, the 2017 Repeal lists these costs to be as high as $33.3 billion by 2030, an almost four-fold increase.  This appears to be because the cost-savings associated with energy efficiency improvements in homes and businesses are no longer counted in the ‘costs column,’ a deceptive accounting move seemingly designed to artificially inflate the costs of compliance with the 2015 Rule. 

•           The 2015 Rule was projected to yield $20 billion in climate benefits by 2030 , whereas the 2017 Repeal projects only $0.5-$2.7 billion. This is because in the 2017 Repeal proposal, EPA chose to depart from a methodology that took years of discussion and review to develop and confined its analysis to climate damages predicted to occur only within the United States.  EPA also low-balled the costs associated with the damages caused by climate change, reducing these costs by as much as 97% from the costs included in the 2015 Rule.

•           The 2017 Repeal’s cost-benefit analysis fails to incorporate available studies and data demonstrating that the electricity sector has made significant progress in complying with the 2015 Rule and that the costs of doing so have declined considerably since the 2015 Rule was finalized, even though some of these studies are cited in the 2017 Repeal proposal. 

Your rejection of the scientific consensus that greenhouse gas pollution causes global warming is well-known.  Additionally, we continue to await your response to the April 7, 2017 letter  requesting more details about your views related to the cause of global warming and the agency’s plan to repeal and replace the 2015 Clean Power Plan Rule.  Our review of the 2017 Repeal proposal only heightens our concerns.

So that we can better understand the basis for the 2017 Repeal, we request that you provide us with all documents (including but not limited to emails, memos, meeting notes and correspondence) sent or received by EPA that are related to EPA’s cost-benefit analysis for its 2017 Repeal of the Clean Power Plan.  Thank you very much for your attention to this important matter. Please provide your response no later than December 1, 2017.

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