Attorney General Tong Joins Coalitions of State AGs Fighting Last-Ditch Efforts by Trump Administration to Gut Environmental Protections
(Hartford, CT) — Attorney General William Tong today joined several coalitions of attorneys general fighting the Trump Administration’s last-ditch efforts to gut key environmental protections in the Endangered Species Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty and the Clean Air cost-benefit rule.
For four years, state attorneys general have been on the front lines of an all-out attack on our nation’s environmental protections.
“We’ve won these legal challenges time and time again because we were right on the science and the law. We are still fighting on every front to protect our environment, even as the Trump Administration packs their bags,” Attorney General Tong said. “My office is ready to work with the Biden Administration and be a partner on restoring and strengthening our environmental protections.”
The Endangered Species Act
For over 45 years, the Endangered Species Act has protected thousands of iconic and threatened species, including the bald eagle, grizzly bear, and humpback whale. In 2019, the Trump Administration finalized three rules revising numerous key requirements of the Endangered Species Act’s implementing regulations at the behest of industry groups. The multistate coalition filed a lawsuit challenging the rules and, in a motion, filed this week, argues that the final rules violate the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act, and should be vacated immediately.
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act
Attorney General Tong and a coalition of state attorneys general are suing the U.S. Department of Interior over a rule that narrows the scope of protections for migratory birds under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) by eliminating liability of the oil and gas industry and others for killing birds as a result of oil spills, electrocution, and poisoning, among other things.
The 11-state coalition contends that the final rule is invalid due to its direct conflict with the MBTA’s purpose of protecting migratory bird populations, and its inconsistency with current legislation that reaffirms MBTA’s longstanding ban on the capture and killing of over 300 species of migratory birds.
Clean Air Cost-Benefit Rule
Attorney General Tong and another coalition are also suing the Environmental Protection Agency over the Clean Air cost-benefit rules which under the guise of “increasing transparency,” negatively overhauls how the agency values environmental and public health protections.
In particular, the rule would undercount the harmful effects of carbon emissions that lead to climate change and distort the value of co-benefits, the often-substantial benefits of a standard that addresses more than one pollutant. The 19-member coalition charges that, among other technical and legal flaws of the rule, this biased approach is contrary to EPA’s core mission to protect human health and the environment, as well as to fundamental economic precepts and the legal requirement that EPA base its standards on the best available information.
The Science Transparency Rule
Attorney General Tong and a coalition of 22 state attorneys general are suing the EPA over a rule that requires the EPA to give less weight to scientific studies, models, or other information in its decision-making on the sole, non-scientific basis that the underlying data are not publicly available. This requirement could undermine the use of important studies that EPA relies on because their underlying data cannot be made publicly available due to personal privacy restrictions. The coalition argues that the rule—which exceeds EPA’s legal authority and would only decrease transparency of EPA decision-making—is contrary to clear congressional mandates to use the best available science and poses a severe threat to the health and safety of the residents of the coalition members.
National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ground-Level-Ozone
Attorney General Tong and a coalition of 17 attorneys general are suing the EPA over a decision not to strengthen national ambient air quality standards for ground-level ozone, commonly referred to as smog, despite ample new data and scientific research demonstrating the need for more protective standards.
The EPA’s decision to not strengthen key ozone standards violates its obligation under the Clean Air Act to adequately protect the health and welfare of the public. Smog is a serious and persistent public health problem in Connecticut, where much of the air pollution travels into our state from other states upwind. EPA must set and enforce sufficiently protective standards.
Washer Dryer Standards
Attorney General Tong today joined a multistate coalition in filing a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s final rule creating new, unnecessary classes of clothes washers and dryers based on cycle time. The rule, which purports to create new product classes but assigns no energy efficiency standards at all, builds on the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) ongoing effort under the Trump Administration, to undermine the energy efficiency program by allowing carve-outs that eviscerate existing standards. In today’s lawsuit, the coalition will argue that the rule violates the Energy Policy Conservation Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act.
Greenhouse Gas EmissionAttorney General Tong also joined a coalition of 27 states and municipalities today in filing 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.