Attorneys general from mostly blue states have issued 80 legal actions to prevent President Donald Trump from rolling back Obama-era environmental regulations, according to a report published Tuesday.
Attorneys general (AGs) from Massachusetts, New York, and elsewhere, are using the court system to stymie Trump’s goal of peeling back rules targeting coal power plants, and methane from oil and natural gas extraction. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has been at the forefront of the effort.
Schneiderman, a Democrat and virulent critic of Trump, has been the most aggressive, leading or joining in on 49 legal actions against the administration. His counterparts in Massachusetts and California — Maura Healey and Xavier Becerra — were not far behind with 47 legal actions each.
The report came from the State Energy and Environment Impact Center, a group created in 2017 to escalate attacks against Trump’s moves to eliminate several of his predecessor’s climate regulations. The group was the recipient of a $6 million grant from former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an Independent. The money is used to help AGs ramp up campaigns against Trump.
The Center was launched in August by David J. Hayes, who served as the Interior Department’s deputy secretary under former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. He helps coordinate the left-leaning AG’s legal actions.
“State attorneys general are using every tool in their toolbox,” Hayes said in the report. “Indeed, attorneys general possess unique power to stop unlawful actions dead in their tracks at the courthouse.”
Healey, a Democrat, mirrored much of Haye’s sentiments in her comments about the report. “We have even more work to do,” Healey, who has also joined Schneiderman in lawsuits against ExxonMobil’s climate change record, told reporters shortly after the Center published its report. “Not only are they not enforcing the laws, they’re actually working at counter purposes.”
The mostly Democratic AGs contingent has teed off on the Trump administration’s repeal of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era rule designed to cut carbon emissions from electricity generation. Schneiderman and Healey are fighting the repeal because the EPA is required to regulate carbon emissions because of their effect on Earth’s climate.
Conservative activists believe the power plan is unlawful on several counts. They argue the provision — the Clean Air Act — that supposedly gives the EPA authority to administer the rule prohibits the agency from setting emission standards for existing power plants. It specifically excludes from the EPA’s authority “sources” — industrial facilities such as power plants — that are regulated under a different section of the act.
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