The bigger story behind this week's CPP decision

The bigger story behind this week's CPP decision

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision this week to pause implementation of the Clean Power Plan while lawsuits against it make their way through court, it could be easy to forget how ready Americans are to move beyond coal. Consider that:

·      More than 70% of Americans support putting tight controls on GHG emissions from new and existing power plants. 

·      60% of voters say they support the Clean Power Plan; those who strongly support the plan outnumber those who strongly oppose it by eight percentage points (27% to 19%). 

·      70% of voters – including a 58% majority of Republican surveyed – want their states to cooperate with the EPA’s guidelines, while just 17% do not. 

·      A majority of the public in 23 out of 26 states filing suits against the CPP actually support setting strict limits on coal-fired power plants, according to Yale’s model of state-level public opinion. Across 26 suing states, only 38% of the public on average opposes the policy. 

·      365 companies and investment leaders support the CPP, including including industry giants such as General Mills, Mars Inc., Nestle, Staples, Unilever and VF Corporation. 

There is clearly a majority constituency – that crosses state lines and party affiliations – supporting climate solutions and meaningful limits on coal-fired power plants. As frustrating as Wednesday’s announcement was for climate advocates, many continue to push the message that momentum for a low-carbon future is too great to stop. Here are some important narratives to keep alive amidst the current (and temporary) process bottleneck:

·      Americans believe the CPP will offer significant benefits around energy independence, public health and climate change. Tell and amplify stories that illustrate how communities, economies and the environment are already starting to feel these positive effects. Communicate the specific benefits we can expect alongside reduced emissions from coal-fired power plants, including lower energy bills.

·      Several states – including New York and California – and power companies have committed to continue developing plans to implement the new EPA standard, regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision. Look for opportunities to showcase this regional leadership and promote equitable strategies for reducing emissions from coal-fired power plants.

·      Though it targets the U.S.’ largest source of CO2 emissions, the Clean Power Plan is just one example of how the United States is moving away from fossil fuels. Solutions stories can also be told around renewable energy tax credits, stricter emissions standards for cars, trucks and aircraft, energy efficiency efforts and more. 

·      Around the world, renewables are overtaking fossil fuels. More capacity is being established for renewable power each year than is for coal, natural gas, and oil combined; meanwhile, the cost of wind and solar is on par or cheaper than the grid.


Looking for more strategies on how to connect with audiences about the Clean Power Plan and this decision? Check out these resources:

Framing guidance on the Supreme Court’s decision (Climate Action Coalition) – for Climate Access members only

Pause on Clean Power Plan doesn’t change the realities of its benefits (Tree Alert)

State Statements Following the Supreme Court’s Decision to Stay the Clean Power Plan (Georgetown Climate Center)

Maps show disconnect between public opinion and CPP lawsuits (Climate Access)

Tip sheet on attitudes to coal in the United States (Climate Access)

Ack, What’s an ERC? Cliffsnotes on the Clean Power Plan (Resource Media)

Health Messaging on Carbon Pollution Standards (Resource Media)


Photo by Wknight94