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June 15, 2017

Pa. attorney general sues Trump Administration over energy regulations

Pennsylvania was one of 11 states that sued the U.S. Department of Energy this week, claiming the department deliberately failed to finalize energy-use rules that would curb greenhouse gas emissions and save consumers and businesses billions.

The energy department approved the rules in December. The regulations then went through several final steps required by federal law, including a 45-day review period and a 30-day window for the energy department to submit the rules to the Office of Federal Register, enacting them into law. 

But less than two months after President Donald Trump was inaugurated in January, the department never took that step, and the rules have stalled ever since, according to a press release from Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

The regulations cover portable air conditioners, walk-in coolers and freezers, air compressors, commercial boilers and uninterruptible power supplies.

"I’m suing to make the Trump Administration follow the law and protect our environment,” Shapiro said in a statement. “Pennsylvanians have a constitutional right to clean air and pure water, and I’m taking legal action to protect that right."

The rules would save consumers and businesses an estimated $11.6 billion, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 159 million tons and conserve 242 billion kilowatt hours of electricity over a 30-year period, according to the release.

In the lawsuit, plaintiffs say that by not submitting the rules to the Federal Register for publication, the Trump Administration violated environmental and administrative laws at the federal level.

The suit, filed Tuesday in California federal court, also named Rick Perry, the former Republican governor of Texas and presidential candidate who was confirmed earlier this year as Trump's energy secretary.

“This is about standing up for the rule of law,” Shapiro said. “These energy-efficiency standards were approved to protect consumers, small businesses and our environment, and the Trump Administration can’t simply refuse to put them in place.”

The suit claims that the department's energy-efficiency standards for portable air conditioners, uninterruptible power supplies and air compressors either need to be updated or replaced.

Along with Shapiro, other attorneys general filing suit were: Eric Schneiderman, New York; Xavier Becerra, California; George Jepsen, Connecticut; Lisa Madigan, Illinois; Janet T. Mills, Maine; Brian E. Frosh, Maryland; Maura Healey, Massachusetts; Ellen F. Rosenblum, Oregon; J. Donavan, Vermont; and Bob Ferguson, Washington State. New York City is also listed as a plaintiff.

The plaintiffs are seeking a court order for the Department of Energy to send the new rules for immediate publication, as well as reimbursement of legal expenses.

On June 1, Trump pulled the United States out of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, an international pact on mitigating greenhouse gas emissions signed by more than 150 countries.