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Updated: Suing and Spewing—The Massive Pollution Behind the Fight to Overturn the Clean Power Plan

The W. A. Parish power plant in rural Fort Bend County, Texas, on September 5, 2014.

See also: Suing and Spewing: The Massive Pollution Behind the Fight to Overturn the Clean Power Plan by Erin Auel

Today marks one year since the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, finalized the Clean Power Plan—the first-ever limits on carbon pollution from power plants. In response to these important standards, several power producers across the country launched a legal battle to overturn these limits. Sixteen of the top-100 biggest power companies filed suit against the EPA directly, while many more are members of trade associations that are suing the EPA on behalf of their members.

CAP analysis from June found that these power producers emit significant amounts of carbon pollution, demonstrating that they have a vested interest in undoing the Clean Power Plan. This charticle updates the original issue brief with new data for 2014 CO2 emissions.

Power producers affiliated with the litigation released 1.2 billion tons of carbon pollution in 2014, the same amount as 2013. But the consistent aggregate total belies the fact that the biggest polluters emitted more even as smaller polluters began to clean up their acts. Half of the affiliated power producers increased their carbon pollution in 2014. In particular, the five biggest power producers affiliated with the lawsuit emitted 52 million more tons of carbon in 2014 than in 2013.

The District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals is considering the lawsuits brought forth by the power producers and trade associations in addition to those from state attorneys general and other companies and industry groups. The court will hear oral arguments on the case on September 27, 2016.


Erin Auel is a Research Assistant at the Center for American Progress.