Attorney General Becerra Sues EPA Over Illegal Decision to Let Polluters off the Hook

Tuesday, April 10, 2018
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SACRAMENTO –  California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its illegal repeal of a longstanding policy that requires major sources of hazardous air pollutants – such as petroleum refineries and chemical plants – to permanently take action to reduce their emissions. Known formally as the “Once In, Always In” policy, this critical guidance has been in effect since 1995. Attorney General Becerra and CARB filed the lawsuit in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The purpose of the “Once In, Always In” policy is simple: to ensure that major sources of hazardous air pollutants install and operate equipment to permanently minimize the release of hazardous air pollutants. 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. Elimination of the “Once In, Always In” policy would invite major sources of hazardous air pollutants to game air regulations and avoid important pollution-saving measures.

“Instead of prioritizing the health of hardworking Americans, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt wants to let major polluters off the hook. That is unconscionable, and it is illegal,” said Attorney General Becerra. “If the ‘Once In, Always In’ policy is rescinded, children in California and around the country – particularly those who must live near the polluting plant or factory – may grow up in an environment with tons of additional hazardous pollutants in the air they breathe. California will not allow that to happen. The EPA must be held accountable.”

California is urging the Court to invalidate EPA’s repeal, because it contravenes the intent of Congress expressed in the Clean Air Act and it constitutes an arbitrary and capricious reversal of the Agency’s position.

Since taking office, Attorney General Becerra has taken swift and broad action to hold EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt accountable. Among other actions, Attorney General Becerra has submitted a 30-page comment letter to the EPA regarding due process violations, lack of fairness, and ethical lapses that arise from Administrator Pruitt’s involvement in the proposed rulemaking to repeal the Clean Power Plan; filed a lawsuit against the EPA for failing to provide thirty-two categories of documents related to Administrator Pruitt’s known conflicts of interest and any actions taken by EPA or the Administrator to comply with federal ethics laws; and recently secured a federal court ruling that will require the EPA to designate areas of the country that have unhealthy levels of smog in excess of federal Clean Air Act requirements. 

A copy of the Petition for Review is attached to the electronic version of this release at

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PDF icon Petition For Review.pdf5.06 MB