AG Grewal Sues to Stop EPA from Weakening Clean Air Rules – N.J. Challenges Agency “Guidance” Allowing HFCs, a Contributor to Climate Change

TRENTON – Acting to protect New Jersey residents from the harmful effects of climate change, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today joined a multi-state petition seeking to stop the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from allowing industrial use of chemicals known as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

Filed today with the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., the petition seeks to invalidate a recently-issued EPA “guidance” document that effectively suspends the agency’s own three-year-old ban on use of HFCs in manufacturing. HFCs are used as propellants in foam products and as refrigerants. They are especially powerful greenhouse gases and contribute significantly to climate change.

“As we saw during Superstorm Sandy, the symptoms of climate change – like extreme weather, rising seas, and coastal erosion – can put our state at grave risk,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Climate change is the single greatest environmental threat to our state and our planet. That is why we have a clear interest in doing all that we can to stop this irresponsible move by EPA. Washington should be placing stricter rules on greenhouse gases, not weakening them.”

“New Jersey has taken assertive actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, industries and vehicles,” said New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe. “This backdoor attempt to change the rules will undermine our efforts and place at risk those actions that are necessary in other states to address global warming and sea-level rise. As a coastal state, we take this issue very seriously. We expect the federal government to send the right message to all states by addressing this issue with equal assertiveness, not by backsliding.”

In petitioning the federal court today, New Jersey joins New York, nine other states and the District of Columbia in challenging EPA’s guidance as improper. Among other legal violations, EPA failed to issue its decision to suspend the HFC rules via the proper rulemaking process, and EPA’s decision also ignored the significant environmental benefits of the prior limits on HFCs.

Today’s petition filing is the latest in a series of legal actions by Attorney General Grewal to prevent the Administration from weakening or eliminating rules that address climate change. Among other environmental actions, Attorney General Grewal fought rules that roll back vehicle emissions standards and the penalties for violating national fuel economy standards, as well as joined letters and multi-state comments opposing the expansion of offshore drilling off New Jersey’s Coast.

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