Attorney General Lisa Madigan, announced she joyed with 10 other attorney generals to file a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for seeking to illegally roll back key climate protection regulations adopted in 2015. Madigan specifically feels the EPA violated the federal Clean Air Act when it rescinded regulations prohibiting the use of hydroflorocarbons (HCFs), through guidance, rather than a public rule making process as required by the law.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and charges the EPA administrator Scott Pruitt’s use of guidance to rescind the 2015 rule violate the Clean Air Act. Under the Act, the Guidance should have been handled as a substantive rule with public notice and comment prior to being finalized.
The group of attorney generals who filed the suit claim that lifting limits on the use of HFCs will damage efforts to combat climate change. When it finalized its HFC rule in 2015, the EPA estimated that it would avoid 26-31 million metric tons of greenhouse gases annually by 2020.
A reduction of 30 million metric tons of approximately equivalent to 6.4 million passenger vehicles driven for one year or the annual energy use for 3.2 homes.
“The EPA under Administrator Pruitt continues to disregard its duty to protect the public’s health and the environment,” Madigan said. “Rather than implement these vital protections against climate change, EPA decided to scrap them without any public participation whatsoever. This is unacceptable and unlawful.”
Two manufacturers of HFCs have sued the EPA over the 2015 ruling. In deciding that suit, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia unanimously affirmed EPA’s legal authority to designate HFCs as prohibited replacements for ozone depleting substances. In a split decision the court also ruled that the EPA lacked authority to require a manufacturer that has already replaced an ozone depleting substance withe HFCs to switch to a safer alternative. The Court partially vacated the rule, and remanded it back to the EPA.
The EPAs decision to avoid the rule completely will likely result in a significant increase in HFC emissions. Administrator Pruitt has issued a document that rescinds the 2015 rule entirely. However, despite the court’s ruling that this aspect of the 2015 rule was lawful. EPA has pledged to undertake a rule making to address the courts decision, but has provided no time line for doing so.
Joining Madigan in the lawsuit are attorney generals of California, Delaware, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia as well as the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.