POLITICS

NY Leads 10-State Lawsuit Against Trump Administration Over Stalled Pollution Rules

Blocked energy efficiency standards would help the environment and save consumers $24 billion, New York's attorney general says.

Ten states have filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration over stalled energy efficiency rules aimed at reducing pollution.

The action, led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, accuses the U.S. Department of Energy of violating federal law by halting the implementation of national energy efficiency standards for major appliances like air conditioners, ceiling fans and freezers.

Schneiderman slammed the Trump administration for blocking the standards, saying they would eliminate 292 million tons of carbon dioxide and save consumers nearly $24 billion in energy costs.

“This is yet another example of how the Trump administration’s pollute-first energy policy has real and harmful impacts on the public health, environment and pocketbooks of New Yorkers,” Schneiderman said in a statement. 

Joining New York in the lawsuit are California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection and New York City.

The new standards, created under Barack Obama’s administration, were scheduled to go into effect March 20, but the Trump administration delayed their implementation until Sept. 30. The Department of Energy said the delay was “non-substantive” and that “seeking public input” would be “contrary to the public interest,” according to Schneiderman, who called the move illegal.

The suit specifically accuses the department, and its secretary Rick Perry, of violating the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act and the Administrative Procedures Act in stalling the implementation of standards for ceiling fans. The same group of states, plus Maryland, are sending a 60-day notice regarding standards for other products, such as commercial boilers and power-supply equipment, according to Schneiderman’s office. 

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra called the new standards a “win-win for consumers and the environment” and urged Perry to implement them “without further delay.”

The suit marks the latest showdown between Schneiderman and President Donald Trump. A judge recently approved a $25 million payout from Trump to settle a civil suit by Schneiderman and two class action suits accusing Trump University of fraud. (Trump will be able to write off the settlement against whatever taxes he pays; students will have to pay income taxes on the payoffs, notes Forbes.)

Schneiderman also shut down the Trump Foundation last year after he uncovered a number of questionable practices, including a political donation by the foundation to the campaign of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who was considering joining Schneiderman’s lawsuit against Trump University.

The New York attorney general recently hired a top public corruption expert from the office of ousted New York federal prosecutor Preet Bharara to track the Trump administration.

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