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March 17, 2020
Contact: Tom Lalley

Five State AGs Urge Administration to Forgo 'Sweeping and Unsupported' Changes to Regulatory Enforcement

OMB is soliciting proposals that, AGs say, would expand the administration’s “dismal record on enforcement of environmental, civil rights, and consumer protection laws."

Washington, D.C. — A coalition of five attorneys general led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra submitted comments yesterday in response to a request for information by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for potential changes to regulatory enforcement and adjudication. The request follows an executive order signed by President Trump in October 2019 that accuses some federal agencies of having unfairly enforced federal regulations and directs federal agencies to no longer consider noncompliance with agency guidance documents alone as a regulatory violation.
In their comments, the AGs question the purpose of the request, noting that OMB has presented no evidence or examples that demonstrate how the current system is deficient, and that the Administrative Procedure Act already includes numerous protections of due process rights that specifically address OMB’s concerns. Further, the AGs emphasize that “courts have been clear that executive orders alone, without additional support, cannot provide the reasoned explanation required” to justify a proposed rule.
The AGs warn that OMB’s request will result in “proposals that threaten to hamstring federal agencies’ ability to fulfill their duties to enforce and adjudicate violations of a wide range of federal laws that protect the public health and welfare” and that the request “is particularly disturbing given this Administration’s dismal record on enforcement of environmental, civil rights, and consumer protection laws.”
“Our government is supposed to be of, by and for the people, but the Trump Administration has repeatedly prioritized corporate and special interests over our communities,” said AG Becerra. “For decades, California and the federal government worked hand in hand to enforce laws that protect our environment and safeguard the health, welfare, and rights of our citizens. We urge OMB to respect the law, listen to the facts, and make decisions in the public interest.”
The AGs emphasize that if OMB is to pursue a rule to change regulatory enforcement and adjudication, it must provide evidence to justify its actions and should seek targeted changes “rather than broadly implementing a proposal that could hinder effective and efficient agency enforcement, with little benefit.” If federal regulatory enforcement becomes deficient, the AGs note, “the burdens of protecting the rights and well-being of our citizens, as well as our natural resources, will fall more heavily on the States.”
The attorneys general of Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Oregon joined AG Becerra in submitting the comments.



About the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center
The State Energy & Environmental Impact Center (State 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 our website