Attorney General Becerra Leads Challenge to Trump Administration Rule Blocking Regulation of GHG Emissions from Stationary Sources

Tuesday, January 19, 2021
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SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today, leading a coalition of 27 states and municipalities, filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s final rule attempting to block future regulation of industries responsible for more than half of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from stationary sources, including emissions from the oil and gas industry. Finalized just days before the Trump Administration leaves office, the rule creates a new, arbitrary threshold to determine if an industry is a significant source of GHG emissions. If the industry emits less than 3% of total U.S. GHG emissions, the EPA claims it cannot be regulated under section 111 of the Clean Air Act.  

“The Trump Administration is throwing mud against the wall and hoping it sticks,” said Attorney General Becerra. “While the EPA put forward a proposal to weaken standards for coal-fired power plants, the rule it finalized took an even sharper turn – throwing up new roadblocks for regulating GHG emissions from nearly all stationary sources without any notice or opportunity to comment. Conveniently, the Trump Administration's chosen threshold for regulating GHG emissions would give the oil and gas industry a free pass. It flies in the face of reason – and the law.” 

“The Significant Contribution Finding Rule is a blatant and cynical attempt by the outgoing Administration to prevent the Biden Administration from using the Clean Air Act to address the climate crisis,” said California Air Resources Board Executive Officer Richard W. Corey. “The Rule draws an artificial and arbitrary line intended to limit which sources can be required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The rule is unsupported by law and fact, and CARB intends to challenge the rule in court.” 

On December 20, 2018, the EPA put forward a proposal to weaken standards regulating GHG emissions from new coal-fired power plants. A California-led coalition submitted a comment letter objecting to the proposal. Last week, the EPA surprised the public by unveiling a final rule that departed dramatically from its original proposal. In promulgating the final rule, which does not contain any emission standards, the EPA failed to provide public notice that it would be replacing its past legal rationale for determining which sources “contribute significantly” to GHG pollution with an arbitrary 3% cutoff.  

The EPA rushed out this new arbitrary test without first providing notice to the public and an opportunity to comment, which makes it illegal under the Clean Air Act and basic administrative rulemaking procedures. This effort to prevent the regulation of GHG emissions from any sources besides power plants is little more than a transparent attempt to tie the hands of future administrations.  

Attorney General Becerra is joined by the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin, the District of Columbia, the cities of Boulder, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and South Miami, and Broward County in filing today’s lawsuit.

A copy of the lawsuit can be found here.

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