Attorney General Becerra Seeks to Join Suit Challenging EPA’s Harmful Rule Weakening Air Toxic Requirements

Tuesday, October 23, 2018
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today filed a motion to intervene in Downwinders at Risk, et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a case challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final rule weakening air toxic compliance requirements for cement plants. Cement plants and kilns, used to grind and heat raw materials into concrete, produce dust and hazardous air pollution that deteriorate local air quality and public health. The motion to intervene, filed in the federal district court in Washington, D.C., by the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Environmental Justice, challenges the rollback as a violation of the Clean Air Act.

“This reckless policy by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will leave already vulnerable communities gasping for air,” said Attorney General Becerra. “The EPA’s rule paves the way for corporate polluters to recklessly spew poison into the lungs of our most vulnerable communities’ children, risking lifelong ailments and even death. We demand that the EPA and the Trump Administration perform their duty according to the law and reverse this rule that endangers the lives they are entrusted to protect.”

The EPA’s rule provides cement plant operators with a “compliance holiday,” or a six-month period to threaten the health of Americans by not complying with the Clean Air Act’s air toxics requirements whenever kilns idle temporarily. In the lawsuit, Attorney General Becerra asserts that this compliance holiday violates the Clean Air Act, which requires that emission limits apply to all covered sources, at all times.

Research shows that local air pollution from cement kilns causes numerous adverse health effects, including heart and lung disease. Communities near these cement kilns, especially low-income communities, which are often communities of color, and children, bear the largest brunt of these health issues. California is home to as many as nine cement plants, many of which are concentrated in the Inland Empire and Eastern Kern County regions. These areas face existing air quality challenges that will only be exacerbated by the EPA’s new rule.

Attorney General Becerra is at the forefront of environmental defense and has made protecting the environment a top priority. The Attorney General has sued the Trump Administration to protect the environment and climate 24 times, with 14 wins to date and most cases still ongoing. In addition, Attorney General Becerra is a fervent defender of environmental justice in California and throughout the nation. Some of his recent actions include:

  • Establishing the Bureau of Environmental Justice within the Environment Section of the California Department of Justice in February 2018. The Bureau’s mission is to protect people and communities that endure a disproportionate share of environmental pollution and public health hazards.
  • Pledging to defend the nation’s Clean Car Standards in response to the Trump Administration’s proposed rollback of those standards.
  • Filing an amicus brief in 2017 in support of the City of Oakland’s ordinance prohibiting the storage and handling of coal and petroleum coke.
  • Supporting an ordinance requiring new oil and gas sites be located more than 300 feet from residences, schools, hospitals, and parks in the City of Arvin.

A copy of the motion can be found attached to the electronic version of this press release at

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