- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for AG Healey Sues EPA Over Illegal Rollback of Critical Climate Protection Regulations
Boston — Attorney General Maura Healey today joined a coalition of 12 attorneys general and state agencies in filing a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for illegally rolling back critical climate protection regulations.
The lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, alleges that the EPA violated the federal Clean Air Act when it rescinded regulations prohibiting the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) – an extremely potent climate change pollutant – through guidance, rather than a public rulemaking process, as required by federal law. HFCs are commonly used in refrigeration, air-conditioning, insulation, fire extinguishing systems, and aerosols.
“Communities across our state are already spending millions fighting the impacts of climate change,” said AG Healey. “Throwing out these commonsense restrictions on this potent pollutant is contrary to the law and science, and it is disruptive to the manufacturers that have invested in alternatives. We are suing to protect the health of our residents and the planet.”
The attorneys general and state agencies argue in today’s petition that lifting limits on the use of HFCs will damage ongoing efforts to combat climate change. When it finalized its HFC rule in 2015, EPA estimated that the rule would avoid 26 to 31 million metric tons of greenhouse gases emissions annually by 2020. This would be the equivalent of the emissions of 6.4 million passenger cars driven for year, or the annual energy use for 3.2 million homes.
Since 1990, the Clean Air Act has required EPA to phase out chemicals, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which destroy the earth’s ozone layer. The law included a “Safe Alternatives Policy” to ensure that when manufacturers replaced CFCs and other ozone-depleting substances in their products, their replacements would “reduce overall risks to human health and the environment.” Pursuant to this provision of the law, in 2015 EPA finalized a rule that prohibited or limited the use of HFCs as replacements for ozone-depleting substances due to their potency as climate change pollutants. HFCs are thousands of times more potent for global warming than carbon dioxide and are the fastest growing source of emissions in the United States and globally.
Following a lawsuit by manufacturers of HFCs against the EPA over the rule, the D.C. Circuit Court affirmed EPA’s legal authority to prohibit the use of HFCs as replacements for ozone-depleting substances, except as to some manufacturers. But in April, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt issued “guidance” that effectively rescinded the 2015 rule in its entirety. The “guidance” was issued without public notice and opportunity for comment and applies to all manufacturers, despite the Court’s ruling.
Joining AG Healey in filing the lawsuit are the attorneys general of New York, California, Delaware, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia as well as the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.