California Attorney General's Office

01/19/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 01/19/2021 15:46

Attorney General Becerra Files Challenge to Trump Administration Rule That Discounts Public Health Benefits of Reducing Air Pollution

SACRAMENTO - California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today, as part of a multistate coalition, filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration over its final rule imposing burdensome new requirements for how the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calculates the costs and benefits of Clean Air Act regulations. The final rule will hinder future Administrations' efforts to regulate air pollution that harms public health and the environment, even when the benefits of such regulations greatly outweigh the costs. Last year, Attorney General Becerra, as part of a similar coalition, filed comments highlighting the numerous deficiencies in the Trump Administration's proposal and urging its abandonment.

'Even as more than 100,000 Americans die each year from air pollution, the Trump Administration is making it harder for the EPA to develop and implement life-saving environmental regulations,' said Attorney General Becerra. 'It's not only unlawful - it's immoral. We won't let the Trump Administration further endanger those communities already hit first and worse from air pollution by tying the EPA's hands on its way out the door.'

'This rule is specifically designed to undermine and delay future health-protective regulations,' said California Air Resources Board Executive Officer Richard W. Corey. 'Creating new procedures that lock in anti-environmental policy preferences is yet another assault on public health as the Trump administration is on its way out the door.'

In developing Clean Air Act regulations, the EPA may - and frequently does - conduct analyses that weigh the cost to industry against the societal and environmental benefits. These cost-benefit analyses consistently show the same thing - cleaner air is well worth the cost. Moreover, fifty years of experience under the Clean Air Act shows that the costs of cleaner air tend to be much lower than expected due to innovations in technology and management practices. Meanwhile, scientific research continues to show cleaner air benefits public health and the environment even more than previously understood. The Trump Administration's final rule does not contend otherwise, but nonetheless needlessly and hypocritically requires that future Administrations conduct more and more detailed cost-benefit analyses before the EPA can take action. In their lawsuit, the coalition intends to argue that the rule is arbitrary and capricious and contrary to the Clean Air Act.

Attorney General Becerra has repeatedly challenged the Trump Administration's attempts to undermine critical air quality regulations and the underlying rulemaking processes. Over the summer, Attorney General Becerra joined a multistate coalition in challenging a final rule undermining limits on mercury emissions from coal plants by discounting the accompanying reductions in particulate matter. Attorney General Becerra also filed comments in May 2020 and August 2018 opposing the Trump Administration's proposal to limit the use of critical scientific evidence in EPA decision-making on actions relating to public health and the environment. Last year, Attorney General Becerra joined a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration's replacement for the Clean Power Plan, the so-called Affordable Clean Energy Rule, which relies on an artificially deflated value of carbon dioxide reductions to justify the rule. He also filed an amicus brief in Physicians for Social Responsibility v. Wheeler opposing the EPA's attempt to stack scientific advisory boards charged with evaluating evidence of air pollution's harms with industry representatives.

Attorney General Becerra joins the attorneys general of New York, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia, as well as the City of New York and the California Air Resources Board, in filing today's lawsuit.

A copy of the lawsuit can be found here.