Chairwoman Maloney Introduces Legislation to Tackle Hazardous Fossil Fuel Power Plant Pollution

Feb 1, 2022
Press Release
The Justice in Power Plant Permitting Act Elevates the Voices of Frontline Communities in Addressing Environmental Justice

Washington, D.C. (February 1, 2022)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Oversight and Reform Committee, introduced the Justice in Power Plant Permitting Act, legislation to curb deadly air pollution from fossil fuel-fired sources and advance an equitable transition to clean energy alternatives while supporting workers and local communities.

 

“From increased rates of asthma to higher death rates of COVID-19, New Yorkers know firsthand the health effects of living next door to some of the dirtiest power plants.  The cruel reality is that​ nationwide, communities of color are disproportionately burdened by pollution from these toxic plants,” said Chairwoman Maloney.  “The Justice in Power Plant Permitting Act will address these environmental injustices by enforcing permitting requirements that prioritize the health and well-being of frontline communities and providing the necessary funding to support clean energy alternatives and the transition of workers into good-paying, clean energy jobs. It’s time to put peoples health and well-being first, and that is exactly what my bill will do.”

 

The Justice in Power Plant Permitting Act expands on Chairwoman Maloney’s work in advancing environmental justice by:

 

  • Creating a new Clean Air Act permitting and oversight requirement that state permitting authorities would need to follow when considering major sources of air pollution, as well as smaller sources within a mile of a large emitter.

     

    • Requires any application for a new or renewed permit to have a cumulative impacts analysis that takes into account the combined effect of all sources of air pollution in an area. A cumulative impacts review would provide a more accurate snapshot of a polluter’s impact on public health.

       

    • If the analysis fails to demonstrate that the source would result in no harm to the health of local communities, the state permitting authority must deny the permit.

 

  • Establishing a $10 billion Just Energy Transition Fund to replace existing or planned fossil-fuel power plants through clean energy projects that support workers and environmental justice communities. 

 

  • Establishing a Just Energy Transition Fund Advisory Council that would include representatives from community-based environmental justice, labor, and environmental organizations to ensure the Fund advances progress toward a clean economy while also maximizing benefits for the communities hit hardest by pollution.

 

  • Ensuring the federal government is a partner in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and hazardous air pollutants by transitioning it to 100% renewable, air pollution-free energy use by 2030.

Original cosponsors of the bill include Committee Members Reps. Eleanor Holmes Norton, Stephen F. Lynch, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, along with Reps. Jamaal Bowman, André Carson, Emanuel Cleaver, Yvette D. Clarke, Mondaire Jones, Barbara Lee, Gwen Moore, Ritchie Torres, Mike Quigley, and Nydia Velázquez.

On July 21, 2021, the Committee on Oversight and Reform held a 
hearing on President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, a key White House environmental justice policy.  One expert testified that 3,000 deaths per year in New York City are attributable to particulate matter and that peaker plant pollution is among the primary culprits.

 

On August 26, 2021, Chairwoman Maloney met with environmental justice leaders and “Asthma Alley” residents ahead of the Committee’s field roundtable on peaker power plants in Queens, New York.   Immediately ​following the roundtable, Chairwoman Maloney provided testimony against a peaker plant proposal in Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s district at a public hearing.  In October 2021, New York State denied a Clean Air Act permit needed to go forward with the proposal.

 

On December 21, 2021, Chairwoman Maloney, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, and Rep. Yvette D. Clarke sent a letter to Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro, head of the Government Accountability Office (GAO), requesting that GAO examine ​the impact of peaker power plant pollution on frontline communities and evaluate replacement strategies.  In January 2022, GAO formally accepted their request.

 

Click here for a one-pager of the Justice in Power Plant Permitting Act.


Click here for full legislative text of the Justice in Power Plant Permitting Act.

 

Click here to read the list of organizations endorsing the Justice in Power Plant Permitting Act.

 

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117th Congress