AG Becerra: EPA’s Pruitt Should Be Recused From Attempt To Repeal Clean Power Plan

SACRAMENTO, Jan. 9, 2018 –  Leading a coalition of 19 states and municipalities, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today submitted a 30-page comment letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on due process violations, lack of fairness, and ethical lapses that arise from Administrator Scott Pruitt’s involvement in the proposed rulemaking to repeal the Clean Power Plan (CPP). The CPP is a strong, effective, and science-based policy that would significantly reduce carbon pollution from power plants, the country’s largest stationary source of climate-damaging pollution.

“Administrator Pruitt must be recused from any involvement in the EPA’s attempt to repeal the Clean Power Plan,” said Attorney General Becerra. “He has made a name for himself as someone who will do everything in his power to axe this important environmental policy, and he cannot credibly claim to have an open mind about it. His words speak for themselves. The Clean Power Plan would reduce coal and gas-fired power plant emissions by 16 percent by 2030, while avoiding 3,500 premature deaths per year. This is what Administrator Pruitt is against. He ought to do his job and protect our environment instead of catering to the fossil fuel industry.”

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In their comment letter, the states and municipalities underscore that the Constitution’s Due Process Clause and basic principles of administrative law, as articulated by the courts, entitle those interested in a rulemaking to a fair and open proceeding; that right includes access to an impartial decision-maker. Administrator Pruitt cannot serve as a neutral and fair decision-maker on the EPA’s attempt to repeal the CPP. As Oklahoma Attorney General, he worked tirelessly through the courts, legislature, and the media to try to stop the EPA from moving forward with the CPP, and he has continued his relentless attacks as EPA Administrator. For instance, Administrator Pruitt has said that the CPP:

  • 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”;
  • Is “outside the authority granted to the EPA by the law”; 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.”

Attorney General Becerra also published a Medium post on Administrator Pruitt’s previous comments against the CPP, which can be found here.

Furthermore, and just as importantly, Administrator Pruitt’s drive to repeal the CPP would shirk EPA’s legal responsibility to address climate change in order to serve the narrow interests of a segment of the power industry — namely, coal — that is in decline as a result of competition from other energy sources, including renewable wind and solar power. Administrator Pruitt has long shown a bias towards the fossil fuel industry. According to a New York Times report, as EPA Administrator, he has “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, according to a 320-page accounting of his daily schedule from F ebruary through May, the most detailed look yet at what Mr. Pruitt has been up to since he took over the agency.”

Joining Attorney General Becerra in sending today’s comment letter were the states and municipalities of Delaware, Hawai’i, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 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).

Since taking office, Attorney General Becerra has taken swift and broad action to protect the environment. Among other actions, he has filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration over its decision to suspend the Waste Prevention Rule, which requires oil and natural gas producers to cut wasteful leakage of methane on federal lands; opposed the Administration’s illegal attempt to suspend for two years the 2015 Clean Water Rule, which would protect California’s lakes, rivers, and streams from pollutants; and filed an amicus brief in support of the City of Oakland’s ordinance prohibiting the storage and handling of coal and petroleum coke at the Bulk Oversized Terminal.