Attorney General Becerra Condemns Trump Administration Rule Discounting Public Health Benefits of Critical Environmental Standards

Wednesday, December 9, 2020
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today issued the following statement in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) announcement of a final rule discounting public health benefits and inflating industry costs in Clean Air Act rulemaking. Today’s final rule rewriting the methodology for cost-benefit analyses will have significant implications for regulatory decisions affecting public health and the environment.

"The Trump Administration may be able to close its eyes to the life-saving benefits of limiting air pollution, but we have ours wide open," said Attorney General Becerra. "Each year, more than 100,000 Americans die due to air pollution. Today’s rule will further exacerbate the risks to communities that already bear the brunt of environmental pollution and the resulting health consequences."

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. But instead of embracing this research, the Trump Administration’s EPA is trying to change the rules of the game and skew the way the agency conducts that analysis in the future. Today's action is yet another transparent attempt to justify weakening environmental protections and to mislead the public about the harm that will follow.

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.

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