(CN) – Attorneys general from states with thriving clean energy sectors said Wednesday they will fight the Trump administration’s replacement for an Obama-era climate plan, calling it an illegal scheme meant to resuscitate the coal industry.
Led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, the coalition says it’s preparing a federal lawsuit to freeze the Trump administration’s Affordable Clean Energy rule that was signed into law Wednesday morning.
Becerra said the rule change is the latest example of President Donald Trump ignoring climate science and kowtowing to the coal industry.
“Make no mistake, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Trump administration are backsliding once again,” Becerra said during a press conference in Santa Barbara, California. “They’re bending over to special interests at the expense of the public’s interest.”
Becerra’s comments come just hours after EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed the contentious bill at a signing ceremony in Washington, D.C., where he was flanked by coal miners and industry members.
The rule, which replaces President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, gives states the ability to set reductions targets for coal-fired power plants. The EPA claims the change, which will take effect after its publication in the Federal Register, will create necessary flexibility for coal power plants to stay open and compete with the thriving natural gas and renewable energy industries.
The coal industry vehemently opposed Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which set a target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions from all power plants 32% by 2030, relative to 2005 levels. Obama’s plan would have required coal plants to become more efficient and it set a goal of transitioning to zero-carbon energy sources.
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said his state bought in to Obama’s plan and was able to ditch coal and ramp up wind power generation. In 2018, Miller said 34% of the state’s electricity came from wind farms. He says the state will fight Wednesday’s rule change and continue focusing on renewable energy.
“Our whole strategy is to utilize wind to the fullest extent that we can,” Miller told reporters in Santa Barbara.
The multistate coalition opposing the Trump administration’s plan includes California, Iowa, Oregon, Illinois, Minnesota and New York, and will file a lawsuit in the coming weeks.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom painted the rule change as a threat to public health and a detriment to the fight to shield against global warming.
“The Trump administration is once again prioritizing corporate greed over people’s health. It’s a disgrace and it cannot stand,” Newsom said in a statement.