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US Attorneys General Band Together to Fight Trumps Rollbacks of Air Quality Standards and Reconfirm Commitment to Paris Climate Agreement


April 26, 2017. New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman led a coalition of 16 Attorneys General in urging Congress to reject the rollback of critical protective ozone air quality standards.

In letters to the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, the Attorneys General detailed their opposition to S. 263 / H.R. 806, the Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2017, which would substantially delay the ozone standards promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2015 – marking a major step backwards in efforts to combat pollution and its negative impact on public health.

People exposed to elevated levels of ozone suffer from lung tissue damage, as well as aggravation of asthma, bronchitis, heart disease, and emphysema; children and seniors are particularly susceptible to ozone’s harmful health effects. The 2015 ozone rule is expected to result in vital public health benefits. In fact, the EPA conservatively estimated that meeting the new standards would result in net annual public health benefits of up to $4.5 billion starting in 2025 (not including California), while also preventing approximately: 316 to 660 premature deaths; 230,000 asthma attacks in children; 160,000 missed school days; 28,000 missed work days; 630 asthma-related emergency room visits; and 340 cases of acute bronchitis in children.

This bill would not only delay implementation of more protective ozone air quality standards, but, more broadly, would undermine the mandate in the Clean Air Act (Act) and these measures would be a significant step backward in combatting the dangers of ozone and other criteria pollutants.”

The letter stated in part, “In summary, ozone pollution remains a serious and persistent problem for our nation, posing a particular risk to the health of children, the elderly and the sick, as well as individuals who spend time outdoors. Because S. 263 would represent a significant step backward in combatting ozone and other dangerous criteria pollutants, we urge you to oppose the bill,” the Attorneys General concluded in their letter to the Senate. 

The letters were signed by the Attorneys General of New York, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia, as well as the Acting Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

April 25, 2017. NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman joined a coalition of 14 Attorneys General in urging the Trump Administration to reconfirm the United States’ commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement, which was adopted by countries at COP21 in Paris in December 2015. In a letter to President Trump, the Attorneys General highlighted the agreement’s importance in addressing and limiting climate change and vowed to continue rigorously enforcing environmental laws in their respective states regardless of the directives from the White House.

“If the Trump Administration refuses to uphold its legal obligation to New Yorkers’ public health and environment, I am prepared to use every tool in my power to protect our people and our state.” said Attorney General Schneiderman.

The Attorneys General, led by Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh, urged President Trump to maintain the United States’ commitment to the groundbreaking agreement:

“The United States showed exemplary leadership in the years-long effort to secure the Paris Agreement, and our Nation should continue to lead by fulfilling its promise to abide by and implement this historic accord.”

The Attorneys General noted in the letter that, “Climate change is a threat to national security, the economy, and every citizen’s health and well-being and climate change, if left unchecked, will lead to global environmental dislocation and disaster on a scale we likely cannot imagine or survive. Yet at the same time, we have reason to be hopeful. The Paris Agreement on climate change, negotiated under American leadership and ratified by the vast majority of the world’s countries, has the potential to achieve a reversal of our current trajectory.”

The letter was signed by the following Attorneys General: Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, the District of Columbia, and American Samoa.


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