Google filed a public comment today criticizing the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to roll back the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era policy that aims to cut power plant pollution. With its comment, Google joins Apple in arguing that keeping the policy is a good deal for the US.
Google’s comment, which it shared with The Verge, lays out what it called “a strong economic case for the Clean Power Plan.” It says that the plan would encourage utilities and companies like Google to keep investing in renewable energy — which Google says is getting cheaper, is desired by both consumers and investors, and is a good source of jobs.
Google also believes that curbing global warming “is an urgent global priority that requires robust federal policy engagement and strong action from the business community,” the filing says.
The Clean Power Plan, which was finalized in 2016, calls for power plants — the biggest carbon polluters in the US — to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by roughly 32 percent by the year 2030. The EPA set emissions targets for each state, and the states could choose how to reach them by, say, requiring power plants to operate more efficiently, shifting to natural gas over coal, or incorporating more renewable energy into the grid, Vox explains. But the Clean Power Plan has been tied up in courts, and never went into effect.
Now, the Trump administration is trying to roll it back completely — a move that Apple and now Google say is a bad call. Apple, which Reuters says was the first company to post a public comment condemning the Clean Power Plan’s repeal earlier this month, argued that scrapping the policy would make the US less competitive in the clean energy economy. And both Apple and Google note that the prices of renewable energy are more stable than those of fuel — which makes it easier for the companies to anticipate electricity costs.
Google goes a step further to argue that not only should the EPA keep the Clean Power Plan, but it should also update the emissions targets that are now out of date. Renewable energy is getting so cheap and widely available that the Clean Power Plan could afford to set even lower emissions goals than it already does, according to Google. “An updated Clean Power Plan could make an even more substantial, and still cost-effective, contribution to climate change mitigation,” the comment says.
The public comment period is closing tomorrow on April 26th, so Google’s comment scraped in just under the wire. Now, the EPA will have to respond to the comments before it goes about dismantling the Clean Power Plan — a move that will likely be met with even more lawsuits.