States face off over future of Obama global warming plan

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Two weeks after officials in two dozen states asked Donald Trump to kill one of President Barack Obama’s plans to curb global warming, Schneiderman was lead author on a rebuttal letter signed by Democratic attorneys general in 15 states, plus four cities and counties, asking the president-elect to save it. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
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New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Two weeks after officials in two dozen states asked Donald Trump to kill one of President Barack Obama’s plans to curb global warming, Schneiderman was lead author on a rebuttal letter signed by Democratic attorneys general in 15 states, plus four cities and counties, asking the president-elect to save it. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

Two weeks after officials in two dozen states asked Republican President-elect Donald Trump to kill one of Democratic President Barack Obama’s signature plans to curb global warming, another group of state officials is urging Trump to save it.

Democratic attorneys general in 15 states plus four cities and counties sent a letter to Trump asking him to preserve Obama’s Clean Power Plan, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the lead author, announced Thursday.

The letter was a rebuttal to one sent this month by Republican officials from West Virginia and 21 other states, as well as Democrats from the coal-producing states of Kentucky and Missouri, urging Trump on his first day in office to issue an executive order declaring the Clean Power Plan unlawful and prohibiting the EPA from enforcing it.

The Clean Power Plan aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions at existing power plants, the nation’s largest source of the pollution, by about one-third by 2030. Opponents say the EPA lacks authority to implement the rules and have sued to stop it.

Trump has called climate change a hoax. His choice to head the EPA, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, is among those suing the agency to stop Obama’s sweeping power plant rules. And Trump’s nominee to run the Department of Energy, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, has questioned climate science while working to promote coal-fired power in Texas.

In a television interview this month, however, Trump said he was “still open-minded” about the science of climate change.

Schneiderman said states like New York are “on the front lines of climate change” and have demonstrated how to cut pollution and emissions while protecting affordable and reliable electricity, creating jobs and growing the economy.

“The Clean Power Plan builds on that successful work and is a blueprint for the critical action needed to fight climate change’s devastating environmental, economic and public health impacts,” he said.

Under Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Clean Energy Standard, established this year, 50 percent of New York state’s electricity must come from renewable energy sources such as wind and solar by 2030. New York and eight other states are part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cap-and-trade program that has reduced carbon dioxide emissions from electrical generation in the region by 40 percent from 2005 levels.

In California, the nation’s most populous state, which also signed the letter, the goal is also to have half of its energy from renewable sources by 2030 and a 40 percent reduction of greenhouse gases.

The letter to Trump lists local impacts of climate change from fossil fuel emissions, including drought in California, catastrophic storm surge in New York City, a record deluge on Colorado’s Front Range, high-tide flooding in Virginia and South Florida and diminished shellfish harvests in Oregon and Washington state.

Besides New York and California, the letter is signed by attorneys general from the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington as well as officials from Broward County and South Miami, Fla., Boulder, Colo., and New York City.

The legal challenge, filed by 27 states that oppose the Clean Power Plan, is before a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. A decision on the plan could come at any time, but the U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily blocked implementation of the rule until the court challenge is resolved.