Democratic state attorneys general celebrate 300 actions against Trump rollbacks

Source: By Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner • Posted: Monday, December 9, 2019

Democratic state attorneys general are celebrating a milestone of 300 actions against the Trump administration’s environmental and energy agenda, and are preparing for resolutions to some of their legal cases in court.

“This shows how vigorous our collective effort has been and how necessary it has been in the face of a tremendous onslaught of activity by this administration that has worked to actively undermine efforts by state attorneys general to ensure the public health and wellbeing of our communities,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey at a press conference Monday in Washington, D.C.

“We will continue to act in courts and state legislatures, not just playing defense but offense,” Healey said, adding the states would advance clean energy policies, some of which have even challenged by the Trump administration (looking at you, California cap-and-trade program).

Impact of rollbacks come into focus: The press conference was intended to hype the release of a report by the State Energy & Environment Impact Center at New York University that quantifies legal and other actions, such as filing comments, taken by attorneys general against the Trump administration.

The report says Trump’s rollbacks will produce 37% more emissions from the power sector, led by the Environmental Protection Agency’s weakening of the Obama administration Clean Power Plan, which states already sued over.

It projects 100% more emissions from transportation — passenger cars and light trucks — with the Trump administration revoking a waiver allowing California and 13 other states to set tougher fuel efficiency standards (states have sued to keep the waiver), along with preparing to weaken the federal rules, which could happen in a matter of weeks.

And it expects a 37% percent emissions hike in the oil and gas sector, mostly from the administration expanding drilling on public lands, and weakening regulation over methane leaks from natural gas.

The new report follows a previous studyissued by the group in March finding the rollbacks would cost the public more than it saves industry, because of projected damages to public health. Since then, the administration has finalized many of the rollbacks, prompting lawsuits that Trump hopes to see resolved before the 2020 election.

States are winning: Democratic attorneys general so far have been successful in court, with judges finding the Trump administration has not always followed proper legal procedures and laws to unwind regulations and has failed to justify its actions with science-based facts, as required by the Administrative Procedures Act.

Out of 28 environmental cases tracked by the NYU Institute for Policy Integrity, for example, the administration has won once.

Democratic attorneys general expressed confidence they would continue to prevail, despite Trump elevating seasoned deputies to see through the final rules, replacing Scott Pruitt at EPA with Andrew Wheeler, Ryan Zinke at Interior with David Bernhardt, and the Energy Department’s Rick Perry with Dan Brouillette.

“It’s a bad news, good news report,” said Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh. “The bad news is there have been more than 300 situations there the Trump administration has either engaged in terrible policy or has straight up violated the law.”

The good news, for Democrats, is states are challenging those actions.