By Dana Drugmand
Following the release of a new report that warns of the dire consequences of the Trump administration’s rollback of environmental protections, four Democratic state attorneys general vowed to continue fighting those rollbacks in court. The AGs of Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut spoke on Tuesday about their states’ commitment to protecting the climate and the health of their citizens.
“In the face of efforts to take us backwards, to ruin the health and wellbeing of the planet, we will continue to see this administration in court as we need to,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.
The report, by the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center at the NYU School of Law, found that repealing and weakening existing emissions standards will be costly, deadly and will result in even more carbon emissions that drive climate change. Specifically, the regulatory rollbacks would lead to an additional 200 million metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions annually by 2025, costing hundreds of billions of dollars in forgone benefits and causing tens of thousands of additional premature deaths.
“The Trump administration is preparing to take us over the climate cliff,” the report said.
The report details how state attorneys general are fighting against deregulation in the electric power, transportation, oil and gas, and landfill industries, which collectively account for nearly half of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. The analysis includes six federal rules governing carbon and methane pollution that the Trump administration has targeted: the Clean Power Plan, Clean Car Standards, standards on glider truck pollution, new and existing source methane standards for oil and gas production, the Waste Prevention Rule regarding methane emissions on public lands, and a rule on methane emissions from existing landfills.
“These rollbacks would provide an across-the-board pass on pollution control for four of the largest emissions sectors in the United States,” said David J. Hayes, executive director of the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center. As he writes in the report’s opening, “If the administration is successful, our nation’s ability to fight climate change will be set back for years.”
Maryland AG Brian Frosh said that Trump “has become an agent of climate change.”
“In the face of what are obvious signs of climate change, this is outrageous,” he said. “We have experienced extraordinary tornadoes this week, flooding that’s unprecedented throughout our country, hurricanes that have been repetitive and unprecedented in their force. We’re watching this with our own eyes, and it’s extraordinarily reckless to say we need to burn more fossil fuels.”
“Like my colleagues here, I come from a coastal state. I come from a state that is feeling first-hand the devastating and debilitating impacts of climate change,” said Connecticut AG William Tong. “We know that it’s very challenging for Congress to take action on climate change. In that vacuum it falls to the 50 sovereign states to join forces…to defend and protect our individual states and our residents.”
Both Healey and New York Attorney General Letitia James have pursued investigations against Exxon for deceptive climate practices—with New York filing a lawsuit—and both have been vocal opponents of the climate policies of the Trump administration.
“It is no secret that climate change is greatly impacting our planet and our lives every single day,” James said. “As the Trump Administration continues to advance policies that will cause even greater harm to our resources and our health, it is up to state attorneys general to lead the fight to stop these policies and protect Americans.”