To help you understand your rights and protections, the City of Philadelphia is creating action guides on federal policies. The action guides include facts, ways you can help, and other resources.

On October 10, the Trump Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the proposed rollback of the Clean Power Plan, the plan to reduce carbon emissions from power plants in the U.S. The Trump Administration has also proposed unprecedented budget cuts to the EPA and announced the U.S would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. The Paris climate agreement is the international agreement to keep global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius.

These decisions go against the interests of Philadelphians. In response, Mayor Kenney committed to upholding at the local level the very same commitment made by the U.S. in the Paris climate agreement — to reduce carbon emissions between 26 and 28 percent by 2025.

Know the facts

What are the Clean Power Plan and the Paris climate agreement?

Climate change is real. Overwhelming scientific consensus is that the earth’s climate is warming and that human activity – specifically, burning fossil fuels that emit carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases – is the primary cause of that warming.

The Paris climate agreement is the international plan to reduce carbon emissions. At the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21), an international treaty was adopted to limit global carbon emissions and prevent warming above 2 degrees Celsius. The agreement has been ratified by 147 nations, including the United States under the Obama administration. The Clean Power Plan is the primary tool to meet U.S. commitments to the Paris climate agreement.

In 2015, the Clean Power Plan (CPP) was the EPA’s plan to reduce carbon emissions. The single-biggest source of carbon emissions in the United States comes from power plants burning fossil fuels to create electricity. To address these emissions the EPA announced the Clean Power Plan in 2015. The CPP instructs each state to create a strategy to improve the efficiency of existing fossil fuel-fired power plants so that by 2030 carbon pollution from the power sector will be 32% below 2005 levels.

There are many benefits of the Clean Power Plan. Fossil fuel-fired power plants, particularly coal-burning plants, are among the greatest contributors to poor air quality in the United States, and the CPP would curb particulate matter pollution that can lead to asthma and other health hazards. The CPP would also spur job growth in the retrofitting of existing power plants and in the clean energy sectors. Less carbon pollution will slow climate change and the onset of increasingly frequent flooding, heat waves, and other extreme weather in Philadelphia.

Federal action is critical. Philadelphia residents and businesses are already reducing local carbon pollution by investing in energy efficiency in their homes and offices and choosing low-carbon transportation options. But limiting the worst harms of climate change will require federal action like the Clean Power Plan.

The Trump Administration threatens tools for fighting climate change

On March 28, 2017, the Trump Administration issued an “Executive Order on Energy Independence,” which calls on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to undergo a formal review of the Clean Power Plan (CPP). The Order further directs state governors that the EPA does not expect states to formulate responses to the Plan while it has been suspended by the Supreme Court.

On June 1, 2017, the Trump Administration formally announced its decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. This decision goes against the interests of Philadelphians, and in response, Mayor Kenney committed to upholding at the local level the very same commitment made by the United States in the Paris climate agreement — to reduce carbon emissions between 26 and 28 percent by 2025.

On October 10, 2017 the Trump Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the proposed rollback of the CPP. In the notice of the proposed rollback, the EPA indicated that a future announcement on another mechanism to reduce carbon emissions, as currently required by law, is forthcoming. Without the Clean Power Plan, it is unlikely U.S. carbon emissions will decline quickly enough to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, the scientific consensus for the level above which warming will result in irreversible changes to our climate.

The Trump Administration has also proposed significant budget cuts to the EPA. The proposed cuts include all funding for the Clean Power Plan, international climate change programs, climate change research and partnership programs, and related efforts. While the spending bill passed in May leaves the EPA’s budget largely intact through September 30, 2017, the White House’s proposed 2018 budget proposes to cut the EPA’s budget by 31% ($2.4 billion) and would have drastic effects on many programs that Philadelphians rely on.

The Environmental Protection Agency's impact on Philadelphia

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s basic mission is to protect human health and the environment — air, water, and land. To do this, EPA implements the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, provides grants to clean up environmental contamination, runs voluntary programs to encourage conservation of energy and water, and studies the causes and solutions for environmental challenges.

The EPA has been instrumental in improving Philadelphia’s air and water quality. In the past 25 years, unhealthy air days in Philadelphia have declined from a five-year average of almost 100 days to fewer than 15, even as standards have become stricter. This dramatic improvement in outdoor air quality would not have been possible without the EPA.

The EPA has taken an active role in researching climate change, initiating programs to reduce climate emissions, and promoting programs to increase resiliency against the impacts of a warmer climate. Climate projections predict that, by the end of the century, Philadelphia may experience more hot days, heat waves, more rain and precipitation events, and rising shore lines.

The EPA has funded important local work around environmental justice to reduce the disproportionate impact of environmental and health hazards on communities of color. The EPA Region III office is based in Philadelphia provides residents with access to federal policymakers and education opportunities, and creates good-paying jobs in our city.

The Trump Administration’s proposed 2018 EPA budget

The proposed EPA budget’s impact on clean air: The City’s Air Management Services (AMS) receives EPA grants for air pollution control, permits, enforcement of regulations such as the Clean Air Act, to buy and install monitoring equipment. Cuts to these grants will affect these programs, and will mean AMS will not be able to afford to maintain their 71 current employees who conduct toxics and risk assessments, respond to citizen complaints about noise, vibration, odor, soot or smoke, and manage other air pollution prevention programs.

The proposed EPA budget’s impact on clean water: Over decades, the EPA has helped fund local water programs, such as those that protect the sources of our drinking water. Additionally, EPA supports innovation, research and education on programs such as Superfund and brownfield remediation, and waterbody restoration and protection.

The proposed EPA budget’s impact on ENERGY STAR: Since its introduction in 1992, the ENERGY STAR label has helped customers identify and prioritize the purchase of more efficient appliances, computers, and other large purchases to save energy and money. The ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool is used by thousands of Philadelphia buildings to track their energy and water usage and compare themselves to their peers through the city’s energy benchmarking program.

The proposed EPA budget’s impact on Brownfield cleanups: The EPA’s Brownfields Program provides direct funding for Brownfields assessment, cleanup, revolving loans, and environmental job training. These grants have helped Philadelphia put former industrial sites back into productive use and are currently helping to screen soil safety in vacant lots that will be used for urban agriculture and green stormwater infrastructure.

The proposed EPA budget will push responsibilities onto states. The Trump Administration wants to return many of the responsibilities for environmental protection to individual states. However, all jurisdictions will still need to comply with federal mandates for the health of our air and water. In practice, this potentially will lead to local and state tax increases to balance declining revenue, and it could force communities to reduce spending on local priorities like public education and public safety to meet federal requirements.

Education is critical to building bridges and demonstrating support for environmental programs. Whether it is over email, on social media, or at a community meeting, help us get the facts to every Philadelphian.

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