Stop hurting the climate, state AGs tell Wheeler

Source: Anne C. Mulkern, E&E News reporter • Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Nineteen states urged the Trump administration yesterday to stop rolling back climate rules on cars and power plants, citing new warnings about the dangers of climate change.

In a letter organized by the attorneys general of California and New York, the state officials pointed to the administration’s own findings that rising temperatures threaten to increase premature deaths through respiratory ailments like asthma. The administration said as much last month when it released the National Climate Assessment (Climatewire, Nov. 30).

“The sobering findings of the Assessment should serve as a call to action to EPA and other federal agencies to take prompt measures to require reductions in greenhouse gases,” said the letter to EPA acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Yet EPA is proposing to move our nation backwards by rolling back current regulations that require greenhouse gas emission reductions from the transportation and electricity generation sectors, the two largest sources of those emissions in the United States.”

The Trump administration wants to freeze vehicle efficiency and greenhouse gas standards starting in 2022. Under the preferred option, cars would need to get 30 mpg instead of 36 mpg, as envisioned by the Obama administration.

Weakening that rule and others would be the equivalent of adding emissions from 147 coal plants to the atmosphere, according to New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood (D).

“EPA and its sister agencies cannot ignore or downplay their own Assessment,” the letter to Wheeler said. City and state efforts to limit warming “do not yet approach the scale considered necessary to avoid substantial damages to the economy, environment, and human health over the coming decades.”

The letter was also signed by the attorneys general from Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.