A new study out Tuesday backs up a series of legal challenges launched by Democratic state attorneys general alarmed by President Donald Trump's deregulatory rollbacks designed to benefit polluting industries at the expense of public health, the environment, and the economy.
"This special report unmasks the Trump administration's plan to give a climate pollution pass to industries that represent almost half of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States."
—David J. Hayes, State Energy & Environmental Impact Center
Climate & Health Showdown in the Courts: State Attorneys General Prepare to Fight (pdf) was published by the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center at the NYU School of Law, which provides support to state attorneys general working to defend and promote clean energy, climate, and environmental policies.
"This special report unmasks the Trump administration's plan to give a climate pollution pass to industries that represent almost half of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States," David J. Hayes, the center's executive director, said in a statement.
"State attorneys general will not let the administration get away with its brazen attempt to turn major industries' legal obligations to reduce damaging pollution into an invitation to continue to pollute—climate effects and adverse health impacts be damned," he added.
As the administration moves to roll back regulations on four industries that collectively account for nearly half of all U.S. GHG emissions, state AGs are continuing to hold the line in the #climate fight. #ClimateAGs
— State Impact Center (@StateImpactCntr) March 5, 2019
Specifically, the report details the extensive consequences of repealing six major regulations to serve four dirty industries:
- The Coal Industry: Clean Power Plan (CO2)
- The Automotive Industry: Clean Car Standards (CO2)
- The Automotive Industry: Glider Truck Pollution (CO2)
- The Oil & Gas Industry: Methane emissions (new and existing sources)
- The Oil & Gas Industry: Methane emissions (public lands)
- The Landfill Industry: Methane emissions
If the courts allow these six rollbacks to stand, the report warns, they would collectively contribute more than 200 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions each year, undermining global efforts to curb planet-warming emissions and avert climate catastrophe.
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Replacing the Clean Power Plan could cause 1,630 premature deaths, 120,000 asthma attacks, 140,000 missed school days, and 48,000 lost work days by 2030, according to the report. Meanwhile, scrapping the Clean Car Standards could cost Americans $18 billion annually for climate and public health effects as well as up to $236 billion in extra fuel spending by 2035.
"This report confirms what we already feared—that the federal government's environmental rollbacks will have a devastating impact on our climate and our health."
—New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal
"In California, where we're number one in clean energy and sell more zero-emission vehicles than any other state, we can't afford to backslide," said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. "We've seen the effects of climate change, from record wildfires to massive mudslides."
As New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal summarized, "This report confirms what we already feared—that the federal government's environmental rollbacks will have a devastating impact on our climate and our health."
"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," concluded New York Attorney General Letitia James.
James and Hayes, along with Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, discussed the report and the ongoing legal battles against Trump's pro-polluter agenda at a Tuesday afternoon press conference in Washington, D.C.: