Past Seminar

Politics, Power Plants, and the “War on Coal”

Apr 5, 2016 Resources for the Future, 1616 P Street NW, Washington, DC, 20036

About the Event

An RFF Book Launch

Opponents of the Obama administration’s environmental policies frequently accuse the president of waging a “war on coal.” In their new book, Struggling for Air: Power Plants and the “War on Coal”,* Richard L. Revesz and Jack Lienke debunk that narrative, explaining how the US Environmental Protection Agency’s recent restrictions on pollution from coal-fired power plants fit within the broader historical context of our nation’s five-decade struggle to achieve clean air in every American community.

Revesz and Lienke argue that the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, and the Clean Power Plan are the latest in a long line of efforts by presidential administrations of both parties to compensate for a tragic flaw in the Clean Air Act of 1970—the "grandfathering" that spared existing power plants from complying with the sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides emissions limits applicable to new plants. At this discussion, Revesz and Lienke clarifed their arguments and a panel of experts weighed in on the inherent challenges of Clean Air Act regulations and the future of environmental policies such as the Clean Power Plan.


  • Vicki Arroyo, Executive Director, Georgetown Climate Center at Georgetown Law; Assistant Dean of Centers and Institutes and Professor from Practice, Georgetown Law
  • Dallas Burtraw, Darius Gaskins Senior Fellow, Resources for the Future
  • Jonathan Z. Cannon, Blaine T. Phillips Distinguished Professor of Environmental Law and Director, Environmental and Land Use Law Program, University of Virginia School of Law
  • Jack Lienke, Senior Attorney, Institute for Policy Integrity
  • Richard L. Revesz, Lawrence King Professor of Law and Dean Emeritus, NYU School of Law; Director, Institute for Policy Integrity