Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Representative Peter Welch (D-Vt.) Friday joined 205 other current and former members of Congress in filing an amicus brief supporting the Clean Power Plan (CPP), which would protect public health and create jobs by setting the first-ever carbon pollution standards for power plants, the nation's largest source of greenhouse gasses. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is considering a challenge to the Clean Power Plan in West Virginia et al. v. Environmental Protection Agency.
In a joint statement, Leahy, Sanders and Welch said: "The government has a responsibility to address the true costs of carbon pollution. With human-caused climate change accelerating each year, the CPP provides a commonsense and achievable solution to address this growing and serious threat. The Court should uphold the CPP."
Proposed by President Obama in August, the Clean Power Plan would reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. The plan would grow the green economy, save consumers an estimated $155 billion and prevent 90,000 childhood asthma attacks all while putting the United States at the forefront of addressing global climate change. In 2015, there were 10 weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each across the U.S. Vermont is still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Irene in 2011.
Leahy, who is the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee and leads the Senate's work on issues pertaining to the courts, was a driving force behind initiating the amicus brief in the Senate.
The amicus brief argues that the Clean Power Plan rule is consistent with the text, structure and legislative history of the Clean Air Act. Further, it argues that the rule is consistent with the goal of the Clean Air Act to "protect the Nation's air resources so as to promote the public health and welfare and the productive capacity of its population." The brief notes that the Supreme Court has already affirmed that the Environmental Protection Agency has clear authority to combat carbon pollution and regulate greenhouse gasses under Massachusetts v. EPA and American Electric Power v. Connecticut.