Federal National Climate Assessment Found Impacts of Climate Change “Increasingly Threaten the Health and Well-Being of the American People.”
New York, NY - December 11, 2018 - Citing the findings of the recently released “Fourth National Climate Assessment,” Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood – leading a coalition of 29 states, counties, and cities – today called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to immediately withdraw its proposals to roll back rules limiting emissions of climate change pollution from power plants and cars.
In a letter delivered to Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler today, the coalition argues that the increases in climate change pollution resulting from these rollbacks will worsen the numerous harms detailed in the Assessment – the federal government’s authoritative analysis of climate science and the impacts of climate change on the United States. The letter – which was signed by 20 states and 9 local governments – emphasizes that, in detailing the many, burgeoning harms of climate change, “the Assessment makes clear that we need to act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
“The science is clear: climate change is having an increasingly destructive and deadly impact on people, communities, and our economy,” Attorney General Underwood said. “Yet, in the face of its own stark assessment, the Trump EPA continues to advance reckless plans to gut crucial controls on climate change pollution from its largest sources: power plants and cars. The EPA must heed the dire warnings of experts – including those within its own administration – and immediately withdraw its proposals to increase climate change pollution from cars and power plants.”
Conservatively, based on the Trump EPA’s own figures, the proposed rollback of the Clean Car Standards would increase emissions of climate change pollution by 540 million metric tons from model year 2022-2025 vehicles alone, and the Clean Power Plan’s planned rollback would cause emission increases of up to 55 million metric tons in 2030. Together, these increases in climate change pollution for those years alone would equal the estimated annual emissions of 127 million gasoline-powered cars or 147 coal-burning power plants.
The coalition’s letter references the grave concerns voiced by the National Climate Assessment over climate change’s current and the projected risks to health, environment, economy, and national security. These include “[i]mpacts from climate change on extreme weather and climate-related events, air quality, and the transmission of disease through insects and pests, food, and water increasingly threaten the health and well-being of the American people, particularly populations that are already vulnerable.”
In reinforcing the need for immediate action to reduce climate change pollution, the letter quotes the Assessment’s caution that “[i]n the absence of significant global mitigation action and regional adaptation efforts, rising temperatures, sea level rise, and changes in extreme events are expected to increasingly disrupt and damage critical infrastructure and property, labor productivity, and the vitality of our communities.” Further, the letter quotes the Assessment’s conclusion that “[b]y the end of this century, thousands of American lives could be saved and hundreds of billions of dollars in health-related economic benefits gained each year under a pathway of lower greenhouse gas emissions.”
In today’s letter, the coalition emphasizes that the Assessment represents the work of more than 300 governmental and non-governmental experts, was externally peer-reviewed by a committee of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, and underwent several rounds of technical and policy review by the thirteen federal member agencies of the U.S. Global Change Research Program.
Attorney General Underwood has been a leader in the fight against Trump Administration efforts to roll back the Clean Power Plan and Clean Car Standards.
In November, Attorney General Underwood led a coalition of 26 states, counties, and cities that urged the Trump EPA to abandon its proposed replacement of the Clean Power Plan, the first nationwide limits on climate change pollution from existing fossil-fueled power plants – one of its largest sources. In extensive comments filed with EPA, the coalition charged that the proposed replacement rule is replete with factual inaccuracies, analytical errors, and legal flaws and, accordingly, concludes that the rule – if adopted – would be unlawful. Attorney General Underwood has made clear that her office will sue if the Trump administration’s proposed replacement is adopted.
In October, Attorney General Underwood joined a coalition of 21 attorneys general, states, state agencies, and cities in demanding that the Trump EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) withdraw their proposal to roll back national Clean Car Standards. In comments submitted to EPA and NHTSA, the coalition highlighted the consumer, climate, and public health benefits of the current standards, as well as the rollback proposal’s numerous flaws, its use of faulty assumptions, incorrect modeling, selective data, and its misunderstandings of consumer behavior.
Today’s letter was led by Attorney General Underwood and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and signed by the Attorneys General of New York, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota (by and through its Minnesota Pollution Control Agency), New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia, the County Attorney of Broward (FL), and the City Attorneys/Corporation Counsels of Boulder (CO), Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Oakland (CA), Philadelphia, San Francisco, and South Miami.
These matters are being handled for Attorney General Underwood by Senior Counsel for Air Pollution and Climate Change Litigation Michael J. Myers, Affirmative Section Chiefs Yueh-ru Chu and Morgan A. Costello, Special Assistant Attorney General Gavin McCabe, Assistant Attorneys General Andrew G. Frank, Brian Lusignan, Austin Thompson, and Claiborne Walthall, Chief Scientist Alan Belensz, and Legal Assistant Andrea Catalfamo of the Attorney General’s Environmental Protection Bureau, and Chief Economist Peter Malaspina. The Environmental Protection Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Lemuel M. Srolovic and is part of the Division of Social Justice, which is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice Matthew Colangelo.