Fighting Federal Rollbacks
California is a forward-leaning state — you don't become the world's sixth largest economy by sitting back. For Californians, striving for clean air, expanding good-paying jobs, and improving quality of life go hand-in-hand. Over and over, we've proven that you don't have to pick one over the other.
Where General Becerra can work cooperatively with the federal government to protect the environment and public health he'll do so, but where the federal government becomes an obstacle, he won't hesitate to sue. The stakes are simply too high.
The Attorney General is engaged on multiple fronts in fighting the federal rollbacks in protections of the environment and public health.
The U.S. Department of Energy has the authority to set energy efficiency standards for approximately 60 categories of appliances and other equipment. Energy efficiency standards are a win-win for consumers and the environment. Over the lifetime of energy-efficient products, consumers can save billions of dollars in energy costs, and, through reduced energy use, millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions can be eliminated.
Under the Trump Administration, however, the Department of Energy has embarked upon a series of delays in performing its mandatory duty to finalize a series of energy efficiency standards all but completed by the Obama Administration. In April 2017, Attorney General Becerra joined eight fellow Attorneys General in filing a petition in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit challenging the Department's delay in issuing its Energy Conservation Standard for Ceiling Fans. The same month, the Attorney General filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit in order to defend energy saving light bulb regulations. And, in June 2017, the Attorney General initiated another lawsuit against the Department of Energy in the Northern District of California after the Department failed to lift the delay of five other energy efficiency rules.
Public Lands and Oceans
The actions of the Trump Administration have called into serious question the federal government's commitment to preserve and protect our public lands and oceans, and to ensure that any mining or drilling activity that occurs on public lands be done in an environmentally responsible way and in exchange for a fair royalty payment.
On June 8, 2017, exactly 111 years after President Teddy Roosevelt signed the landmark Antiquities Act into law, the Attorney General vowed to protect California's national monuments against any unlawful attempts by President Trump to reverse prior President's designations of treasured parts of our natural and cultural heritage. Similarly, the Attorney General has taken a firm stance against any move to open new drilling off the shores of the coast of California.
The Attorney General has also taken action to contest the Trump Administration seeming disregard for environmental concerns or taxpayer returns when it comes to private interests mining coal, oil or natural gas's on federal lands. For example, the Attorney General filed a lawsuit when the Department of Interior restarted the federal coal leasing program on public land, while, at the same time, cutting short an ongoing, and long overdue, environmental review. And, the Attorney General stepped in when the Department of Interior unlawfully delayed its own rule adopted to ensure that taxpayers receive their fair share of royalties from companies that extract oil, gas and coal from public lands.
Climate: Power Plants and Industrial Sources
The Attorney General is one of the leaders of a contingent of states that are contesting President Trump and Administrator Pruitt's attempts to roll back EPA's greenhouse gas rules. This includes defending the Clean Power Plan, which limits emissions from power plants, as well as rules limiting emissions of methane from oil and natural gas operations.
Ignoring climate change is not an option. In California, we're already experiencing the cost of climate change. Severe droughts have cost our farmers billions of dollars in lost output; rising sea levels will threaten our coastal cities in coming decades; and record-high temperatures are increasing harmful ground-level ozone pollution, which can cause respiratory problems. Regardless of Washington's inaction, California will continue to lead the way on protecting our planet. The Attorney General will fight the Trump Administration tooth and nail any time it tries to roll back our progress.
The Attorney General's Office has been a leader on climate change issues for more than a decade. In 2004, when EPA took the position that it had no power under the federal Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution, Massachusetts, California and other states filed suit. In April 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that greenhouse gases are "air pollutants" under the Clean Air Act. Read the Supreme Court's decision, pdf. As a result of California's victory in Massachusetts v. EPA, EPA began regulating GHG pollution. In addition, when certain industry groups sued EPA over its 2009 determination that greenhouse gas pollution threatens the public health and welfare of current and future generations, the Attorney General supported EPA. This "endangerment determination" is a prerequisite to any Clean Air Act regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles. California intervened with 17 other states to defend EPA. On June 26, 2012, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals called the endangerment determination "unambiguously correct" and upheld the agency's regulatory actions. Read the decision, pdf. On October 15 2013, on industry's petition, the Supreme Court let this important aspect of the Court of Appeals decision stand.