- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for AG Healey to EPA: Recuse Scott Pruitt from Attempt to Repeal Clean Power Plan
Boston — Joining a coalition of 19 states and municipalities, Attorney General Maura Healey today told the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that it must recuse Administrator Scott Pruitt from the ongoing process to repeal the Clean Power Plan, citing his repeated attacks against the policy while Oklahoma Attorney General and since his confirmation as EPA Administrator.
The comment letter identifies due process violations, a fundamental lack of fairness, and related ethical lapses that arise from Pruitt’s involvement in EPA’s pending proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan – the landmark federal regulations finalized in 2015 that limit carbon pollution from the nation’s fleet of power plants, our largest stationary source of climate-damaging pollution.
“Time and again, Scott Pruitt has shown he has no interest in protecting the air we breathe or the water we drink – the job he swore an oath to do,” AG Healey said. “As EPA Administrator, he can’t make sound decisions while ignoring everything and everyone that doesn’t agree with him. Today we are urging the EPA to follow the law and remove him from this process so we can ensure some basic level of fairness in the rulemaking process.”
According to the Constitution’s Due Process Clause and basic principles of administrative law, those interested in a rulemaking are entitled to an unbiased and open proceeding, which includes a fair decision-maker who has not prejudged the outcome. Here, the attorneys general and municipalities argue that there is no possibility that Pruitt can serve as a neutral and fair decision-maker on the proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan.
As Oklahoma Attorney General, Pruitt worked repeatedly through the courts, the Oklahoma legislature, and the media to stop the EPA from moving forward with the Clean Power Plan. He continued to attack the Clean Power Plan after taking office as EPA Administrator. For instance, Pruitt has said that the Clean Power Plan:
- Is “wholly unlawful,” “blatantly unlawful,” “bogus,” “ultra vires,” “a political power grab,” “invalid,” an improper “intrusion into state sovereignty,” and “antithetical to the Constitution”;
- Is “the past administration’s effort to kill jobs throughout the country”;
- Is “the federal government placing the proverbial ‘gun to the head’ of the state of Oklahoma to make the state bow to the pressure of an unlawful EPA rule”; and
- “Quite simply… the EPA does not possess the authority under the Clean Air Act to do what it is seeking to accomplish in the so-called Clean Power Plan.”
According to the letter, Pruitt’s drive to repeal the Clean Power Plan would undermine the EPA’s legal responsibility to address climate change in order to serve the interests of the coal industry, which is facing intense competition from cleaner, more affordable energy sources, including wind and solar power. And the proposed repeal adopts the very same erroneous legal arguments that Pruitt made against the Clean Power Plan for many years.
Pruitt has long shown a bias in support of the fossil fuel industry. According to a New York Times report, as EPA Administrator, Pruitt “held back-to-back meetings, briefing sessions and speaking engagements almost daily with top corporate executives and lobbyists from all the major economic sectors that he regulates — and almost no meetings with environmental groups or consumer or public health advocates...” This follows years of Pruitt’s efforts as Oklahoma Attorney General to coordinate his office’s advocacy strategies with, and solicit campaign contributions from, the fossil fuel industry.
The Clean Power Plan is the culmination of a decade-long effort to partner with states and cities to require mandatory cuts in the emissions of climate change pollution from fossil fuel-burning power plants under the Clean Air Act. The Clean Power Plan, along with a companion rule applicable to new, modified, and reconstructed power plants, would set limits on the amount of carbon pollution that power plants can emit. The Clean Power Plan’s emission limits for existing plants are expected to eliminate as much carbon pollution as is emitted by more than 160 million cars a year – or 70 percent of the nation’s passenger cars.
AG Healey has long been an advocate of combatting climate change and expanding Massachusetts’ clean energy economy. For years, the Massachusetts AG’s Office has been a leader in pursuing federal regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, including leading a coalition of states, in coordination with numerous environmental groups, in the landmark Supreme Court case of Massachusetts v. EPA. Together with other state AGs, AG Healey has insisted on a robust public process for the proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan and committed to fighting that repeal in court.
Joining AG Healey in today’s comment letter are the states and municipalities of California, Delaware, Hawai'i, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, the District of Columbia, the County of Broward (Florida), and the Cities of Boulder (Colorado), Chicago (Illinois), New York (New York), Philadelphia (Pennsylvania), and South Miami (Florida).