12 Attorneys General in Letter to Congressional Leaders:  Cuts "Would Undo Decades of Environmental Improvements"

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 21, 2017
Contact: stateimpactcenter@nyu.edu

Washington, D.C.— Led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, state attorneys general from 12 states sent a letter to congressional leaders opposing steep cuts in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Fiscal Year 2018 budget. The House-passed budget bill cuts EPA's funding by $650 million, while the Senate-passed legislation calls for a $150 million decrease. Both would give the Agency its smallest operating budget in more than 30 years. 

The letter also strongly objects to six outrageous anti-environment “riders” that would block EPA from fulfilling its statutory duty to implement a variety of vital water and air pollution measures, including climate-related emissions reductions and cost evaluations. 

"The unprecedented budget cuts and anti-environmental riders contained in the Senate and House bills for FY2018 would undo decades of environmental improvements," wrote the attorneys general. "Depriving EPA of necessary funding to do its job, and to assist our states with enforcement of the nation’s environmental laws, threatens to take us back to the dark days before EPA’s establishment – a time when air and water pollution was rampant, contaminated sites frequently jeopardized the health of communities, and the presence of unregulated toxic chemicals in food, water, and the environment were a constant threat to the safety of Americans." 

The attorneys general singled out reductions in EPA's enforcement budget for special attention, noting that a diminished enforcement capability would harm the Agency's ability to enforce federal law consistently across the states, putting public and environmental health at risk across the nation. 

The attorneys general also explained the devastating impacts that six environment riders would have on fundamental environmental protections. The riders would directly attack fundamental clean water, clean air, and climate protections by overriding on-going, public rulemaking processes and directing the agency to summarily shut down important protections, by:
  • Directing EPA to withdraw the "Waters of the United States" rule and revert to prior regulations without abiding by the Administrative Procedures Act, setting a dangerous precedent;
  • Delaying for a decade implementation of the national ambient air quality standards for ozone that were put in place in 2015 after an extended public, science-based rulemaking process;
  • Blocking the Bureau of Land Management Methane Waste Prevention Rule, which also was put in place after an extended public, science-based rulemaking process. (AGs have sued EPA in court to enforce implementation of the Methane Waste Prevention Rule.) 
  • Blocking legally-required execution and implementation of EPA’s fully-vetted Methane Rule for the oil and gas industry;
  • Preventing EPA from taking into account the social cost of carbon when evaluating the environmental implications of proposed regulatory activity; and
  • Prohibiting EPA from applying truck emissions reductions to reconditioned, older truck engines in new “glider kits.” 
In addition to Schneiderman, the attorneys general of California; Illinois; Iowa; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Oregon; Rhode Island; Vermont; Virginia; and Washington, D.C., signed on to the letter.

ABOUT THE STATE IMPACT CENTER: The State Energy & Environmental Impact Center is a non-partisan Center at the NYU School of Law that is dedicated to helping state attorneys general fight against regulatory rollbacks and advocate for clean energy, climate change, and environmental values and protections. It was launched in August 2017 with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies. For more information, visit http://www.law.nyu.edu/centers/state-impact.