Attorney General Becerra and CARB Chair Nichols Denounce Trump Administration’s Rule Relaxing Restrictions on Emissions from Super Polluters

Thursday, October 1, 2020
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SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) Chair Mary D. Nichols today responded to the announcement of a final rule by the Trump Administration allowing major sources of hazardous air pollutants – such as petroleum refineries and chemical plants – to escape key federal air pollution regulations whenever they limit potential emissions below a certain number of tons per year. This change allows sources to increase their emissions to just below those thresholds and avoid monitoring and reporting requirements.

“With the country in the midst of a respiratory pandemic, the Trump Administration’s decision to create new loopholes for toxic polluters is a slap in the face to neighborhoods already disproportionately burdened by air pollution,” said Attorney General Becerra. “No American should have to breathe dirtier air or be kept in the dark about it just so corporate polluters can get away with cutting corners. Unfortunately, this latest action is just par for the course under this Administration.

“Rolling back sensible controls on toxic air pollution – in the midst of climate-fueled wildfires and the worst widespread air quality in decades – highlights the utter disregard the Trump administration has for the EPA’s mission to clean up the environment and protect public health,” said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols. “This increase of toxic air pollution by the EPA will hurt communities already suffering from bad air.”

Today's rule formally replaces the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) longstanding “Once In, Always In” policy. Since 1995, that policy had required major sources of hazardous air pollutants to permanently take action to reduce their emissions. Major sources are those that emit or have the potential to emit 10 tons per year or more of any single hazardous air pollutant or 25 tons per year or more of any combination of hazardous air pollutants. Even the smallest increase in hazardous air pollutants can have substantial impacts on public health because of the acute toxicity of many of these compounds and the proximity of major sources to vulnerable communities. The EPA repealed the policy in a 2018 guidance memo, and today codifies that action. 

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