Clean Power Plan - A Historic Step Forward, But State Implementation Key


August 3, 2015


National People’s Action

Jacob Swenson-Lengyel, 316.3973

Climate Justice Alliance

Michael Leon Guerrero,  (505) 263-4982

Environmental Justice Leadership Forum on Climate Change

Dr. Jalonne L. White-Newsome, 577-4246

Mr. Brent Newell, 661-586-3724


EPA's New Clean Power Plan  - A Historic Step Forward, But Proper State Implementation Key

WASHINGTON, DC – Environmental justice and social justice advocates around the country applaud the Environmental Protection Agency and the Obama Administration for taking a step in the right direction by putting forward the Clean Power Plan.  According to a fact sheet released this morning from the White House, states will receive additional incentives to make energy efficiency investments in low-income communities, be required to demonstrate how they are engaging with communities, and conduct an environmental analysis as a part of their implementation.  

The Clean Power Plan is the first ever rule to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide from power plants, the largest source of carbon emissions in the United States.  Since the rule was proposed in June 2014, environmental justice and social justice advocates have been calling on the EPA to require state governments and state-level organizations ensure that the implementation of this plan moves the country toward real clean energy, without present-day subsidies for dirty energy like biomass or nuclear, prioritizes benefits for those communities that are most burdened by the pollution and poverty associated with the energy sector, and achieves absolute emissions reductions in or in the proximity of communities overburdened with pollution.

While the increased attention around community involvement and environmental justice anticipated in the final rule is hopeful, environmental justice groups are still concerned about the Clean Power Plan allowing states to engage in cap and trade, which does not ensure pollution reductions occur at the source or in proximity to benefit the health of low-income communities and communities of color.

In response, environmental, social and economic justice advocates have the following statement:

We support the President and the EPA in reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and co-pollutants from power plants. We are encouraged to see that the final plan specifically requires an environmental justice analysis and engagement with EJ groups.  Now we turn our attention to the States to ensure that health and economic opportunities for low income and communities of color will be protected by the CPP.  We would have preferred that the EPA had come out stronger for renewables by disallowing the use of cap and trade which allows companies to “pay to pollute”.   We will be organizing - in collaboration with our allies on the ground - to ensure that each State establishes an environmental justice analysis and process so their implementation plans comply with human rights laws as well as the Clean Air Act and the Civil Rights Act.   There is great potential in the Clean Power Plan. Now we must ensure that that potential is realized so our communities equally benefit from a health, environmental and economic perspective. 

The following statistics support the need for a strong Clean Power Plan.

•  One in six African American kids and one in nine Latino kids suffers from asthma.

•  Multiple studies show that higher levels of exposure to ambient air pollution among communities of color, which in some cases exceeded the EPA standards, contributed to environmental injustice and highlighted the need for additional strategies for reducing racial/ethnic disparities in air pollution exposure and air pollution-related morbidity and mortality.

•  People who have lower incomes face greater risk from air pollution because they live closer to the sources of pollution and are more likely to have diseases that put them at higher risk.

• The findings of a Yale University study add to evidence of a widening racial and economic gap when it comes to air pollution. Communities of color and those with low education and high poverty and unemployment face greater health risks even if their air quality meets federal health standards, according to the article published online in the scientific journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

• More than 22.9 million people with incomes meeting the definition of federal poverty live in counties that received an F for at least one pollutant, with more than 5 million people in poverty living in counties getting an F for both PM2.5 & O3 levels. (American Lung Association.  Key Findings 2010-2012.

•  Sixty-eight percent of African-Americans, in particular, live within 30 miles of a coal plant.

 • 80% of Latinos live in areas that are failing to meet federal EPA Air quality standards.

• A report by the Environmental Protection Agency (the federal agency responsible for protecting the health and welfare of the public) stated that more than 13.8 million people in many urban areas were exposed to cancer risks greater than 100 in a million due to emissions of air toxics from all outdoor sources.  Especially emissions from coal fired power plants and other electricity generating sources. Dirty air matters because it impacts how we breathe, and it can exacerbate the existence of chronic diseases like asthma, and other respiratory concerns.  


About National People’s Action

National People's Action (NPA) is a network of grassroots organizations from across the country working to advance a national economic and racial justice agenda. NPA has over 250 organizers working to unite everyday people in cities, towns, and rural communities throughout the United States.

About Climate Justice Alliance

The Climate Justice Alliance (CJA) is a collaborative of over 40 community-based and movement support organizations uniting frontline communities to forge a scalable, and socio-economically just transition away from unsustainable energy towards local living economies to address the root causes of climate change.

About the Environmental Justice Leadership Forum on Climate Change

The Environmental Justice Leadership Forum on Climate Change (The EJ Forum) is a national coalition of 42 environmental justice organizations working together to advance climate justice and impact policy to ensure the protection and promotion of communities of color and low-income communities throughout the U.S. Our recommendations for the Clean Power Plan can be found here.  Please see the Climate Justice Tool Kit that has been created to help grass roots organizations engage in Clean Power Plan advocacy at the local/state level.