RICHMOND (November 16, 2018) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring joined a coalition of 16 states in opposing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) illegal proposal to roll back important protections from harmful greenhouse gas pollution.
“The Trump Administration continues to ignore the law in its misguided mission to gut important laws and regulations that protect our environment and the health of our citizens,” said Attorney General Herring. “Virginia is already seeing the effects of climate change, especially in areas like Hampton Roads, where nuisance flooding has become a frequent occurrence because of the rise in sea levels. As a country, we must work together to address the very real threat that climate change and greenhouse gases have on the health, safety and economy of our communities.”
sent to the EPA on Thursday, Attorney General Herring and his colleagues argue that the agency’s plan to throw out a rule designed to protect against the release of extremely potent greenhouse gases such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) is unlawful and a serious threat to public health and the environment. HFCs, which are commonly used in refrigeration, air-conditioning, insulation, fire extinguishing systems and aerosols, are thousands of times more potent for global warming than carbon dioxide and are the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States and globally.
In 2016, the Obama Administration adopted a rule requiring that technicians repair leaky appliances and maintain appliances to prevent emissions of HFCs. The 2016 rule also requires that technicians undergo certain technical training and certification requirements. The requirements help protect the climate from damaging HFC emissions and reduce emissions of chemicals that harm the ozone layer.
Last month, the EPA published its proposal to roll back the rule, claiming that the agency does not have the authority to require maintenance and leak-repair for appliances that contain HFCs. The EPA also sought comment on whether it should roll back its technician training and certification programs. The coalition argues in its comments that the EPA has ample authority under the federal Clean Air Act to enforce these requirements and that failing to do so would contribute to global climate change, which is already causing forest fires, heat waves, sea-level rise, and other impacts that are imposing significant harm on states. The EPA failed to provide any reasoned basis for changing its 2016 position.
The EPA is also proposing to illegally delay the scheduled January 1, 2019 deadline for regulated businesses to comply with certain requirements while the agency finalizes its rollback of the rule. The coalition argues that agencies cannot delay a rule simply because it is under reconsideration, and that the EPA has failed to explain why industry needs additional time to come into compliance.
argue that the EPA failed to fully consider the costs of its rollback, including the harmful effects of greenhouse gas emissions. In this regard, leaks of HFCs will increase costs to businesses by causing appliances to run less efficiently and more expensively and increase the likelihood of extremely costly appliance failures. As the coalition points out in the comments, many regulated businesses supported the rule’s requirements in 2016 and have committed to reducing HFC emissions. The proposed rollback, the coalition argues, will actually increase uncertainty for regulated businesses by “undermining a sensible, comprehensive regulatory program in the name of dubious cost savings.”
Attorney General Herring is joined by the attorneys general of California, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia, Minnesota by and through its Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, as well as the California Air Resources Board