- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for AG Healey Leads Coalition Opposing Illegal Federal Rollback of Protections From Harmful Greenhouse Gas Emissions
BOSTON — Attorney General Maura Healey today led a coalition of 16 states in opposing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) illegal proposal to roll back important protections from harmful greenhouse gas pollution.
“This is yet another wrongheaded effort by the Trump Administration that would endanger the climate and pollute our air,” AG Healey said. “We are calling on the EPA to withdraw this destructive plan.”
In comments sent to the EPA on Thursday, the coalition argues that the agency’s plan to throw out a rule designed to protect against the release of extremely potent greenhouse gases such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) is unlawful and a serious threat to public health and the environment. HFCs, which are commonly used in refrigeration, air-conditioning, insulation, fire extinguishing systems and aerosols, are thousands of times more potent for global warming than carbon dioxide and are the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States and globally.
In 2016, the Obama Administration adopted a rule requiring that technicians repair leaky appliances and maintain appliances to prevent emissions of HFCs. The 2016 rule also requires that technicians undergo certain technical training and certification requirements. The requirements help protect the climate from damaging HFC emissions and reduce emissions of chemicals that harm the ozone layer.
Last month, the EPA published its proposal to roll back the rule, claiming that the agency does not have the authority to require maintenance and leak-repair for appliances that contain HFCs. The EPA also sought comment on whether it should roll back its technician training and certification programs. The coalition argues in its comments that the EPA has ample authority under the federal Clean Air Act to enforce these requirements and that failing to do so would contribute to global climate change, which is already causing forest fires, heat waves, sea-level rise, and other impacts that are imposing significant harm on states. The EPA failed to provide any reasoned basis for changing its 2016 position.
The EPA is also proposing to illegally delay the scheduled January 1, 2019 deadline for regulated businesses to comply with certain requirements while the agency finalizes its rollback of the rule. The coalition argues that agencies cannot delay a rule simply because it is under reconsideration, and that the EPA has failed to explain why industry needs additional time to come into compliance.
The comments argue that the EPA failed to fully consider the costs of its rollback, including the harmful effects of greenhouse gas emissions. In this regard, leaks of HFCs will increase costs to businesses by causing appliances to run less efficiently and more expensively and increase the likelihood of extremely costly appliance failures. As the coalition points out in the comments, many regulated businesses supported the rule’s requirements in 2016 and have committed to reducing HFC emissions. The proposed rollback, the coalition argues, will actually increase uncertainty for regulated businesses by “undermining a sensible, comprehensive regulatory program in the name of dubious cost savings.”
In June 2018, AG Healey joined a coalition of 12 attorneys general and state agencies in filing a lawsuit against the EPA in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit for rescinding regulations prohibiting the use of HFCs through guidance, rather than a public rulemaking process, as required by federal law. The following month, AG Healey led a coalition of 18 attorneys general in urging the U.S. Supreme Court to review a D.C. Circuit decision holding that the EPA can no longer ban all uses of HFCs and other dangerous substitutes for ozone-depleting chemicals.
Joining AG Healey in filing the comments are the attorneys general of California, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia, as well as the California Air Resources Board and Minnesota by and through its Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.