Mal­loy pledges to fight for clean air stan­dards

Greenwich Time - - WEATHER / NEWS - By Bill Cum­mings bcum­mings@ct­

“Our air gets to Con­necti­cut from Illi­nois, In­di­ana, Penn­syl­va­nia, New York and New Jer­sey, and when it gets here it’s al­ready pol­luted.” Gov. Dan­nel P. Mal­loy

Gov. Dan­nel P. Mal­loy on Fri­day joined Cal­i­for­nia and Mary­land in pledg­ing to fight Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s plan to roll­back auto emissions stan­dards.

“We are all get­ting ready for what’s com­ing,” said Cal­i­for­nia At­tor­ney Gen­eral Xavier Be­cerra. “We are not ready to take a punch, we are ready to counter-punch.”

Dur­ing a con­fer­ence call with re­porters, Mal­loy, Be­cerra and Mary­land At­tor­ney Gen­eral Brian Frosh said their states and oth­ers will sue the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion over an ex­pected roll­back of auto emissions stan­dards by the fed­eral En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency.

The EPA has an­nounced in­ten­tions to elim­i­nate a waiver granted to Cal­i­for­nia in the 1970s that al­lowed the state to set higher emissions stan­dards to com­bat a grow­ing smog and pol­lu­tion cri­sis.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion plans to roll­back na­tional car emissions stan­dards that fol­lowed Cal­i­for­nia’s waiver. The new man­date for cars and light trucks would be 37 miles per gal­lon as op­posed to the 54.5 miles per gal­lon set by former Pres­i­dent Bar­rack Obama’s ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“Our air gets to Con­necti­cut from Illi­nois, In­di­ana, Penn­syl­va­nia, New York and New Jer­sey, and when it gets here it’s al­ready pol­luted,” Mal­loy said.

“The EPA wants to take away the tools to off­set that pol­lu­tion and there is no way this meets any rea­son­able stan­dard,” Mal­loy said. “That’s what we will test in the courts if need be.”

Frosh said Mary­land is pre­pared for bat­tle.

“We don’t know what the EPA will de­cide but it’s clear they are try­ing to re­duce stan­dards na­tion­wide,” Frosh said. “It flies in the face of sci­ence and con­flicts with the facts.”

Smog and health

De­bate over auto emissions stan­dards be­gan in the early 1970s when Cal­i­for­nia was suf­fer­ing from thick smog that blan­keted much of the south­ern part of the state.

The state was granted a waiver from the EPA to set higher auto emissions stan­dards to re­duce the pol­lu­tion. Con­necti­cut and 13 other states later adopted those stricter stan­dards.

Over the decades — in part so au­tomak­ers didn’t have to build cars that met vary­ing state rules — na­tional stan­dards were adopted.

The pro­posed Trump plan would stop states from set­ting higher gas mileage stan­dards and es­tab­lish lower na­tional emissions stan­dards.

Act­ing EPA Ad­min­is­tra­tor An­drew Wheeler said in Au­gust that freez­ing mile per gal­lon stan­dards strikes “the right reg­u­la­tory bal­ance” be­tween cost, safety and en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns.

Cal­i­for­nia sees the is­sue much dif­fer­ently, Be­cerra said.

“For most of us, this is an is­sue about lean­ing for­ward not back­slid­ing, not about do­ing busi­ness like we did in the last cen­tury,” Be­cerra said. “Mak­ing our com­mu­ni­ties and en­vi­ron­ment cleaner and safer is a must.”

‘In a bub­ble’

Be­cerra said the cur­rent emissions stan­dards are “based on a moun­tain­load of ev­i­dence and sci­en­tific data” and will not be easy to scrap.

“For the fed­eral govern­ment to think it can over­turn decades of stan­dards is to live in a bub­ble, and think you don’t have to go through a le­gal process,” Be­cerra said.

Mal­loy said the Trump plan takes away the “tools” needed clean the air and pro­tect at-risk res­i­dents, such as the el­derly and chil­dren.

“It makes no sense,” Mal­loy said. “We just need to pro­tect our­selves and we need the fed­eral govern­ment to stop tak­ing those tools away from us.”

Mal­loy added if a Demo­cratic ad­min­is­tra­tion with “so lit­tle sci­ence fact” tried a sim­i­lar roll­back it would be quickly re­jected by fed­eral courts.

“I don’t know what court pack­ing will do,” Mal­loy said, re­fer­ring to Trump plac­ing con­ser­va­tive judges on fed­eral courts. “But the pres­i­dent dic­tates to oth­ers, they ex­e­cute, and then don’t do the sci­ence work that is nec­es­sary.”

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