Advance Notice: Briefs

AG joins 13 states, NYC in suing Trump admin over energy rules

By: - April 22, 2020 1:06 pm

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has joined 13 other attorneys general and New York City in a lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump’s administration over revisions to its energy emissions rules, Nessel’s office announced Wednesday.

The April 14 lawsuit argues that parts of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) recent revisions to its process rule, a 24-year-old rule ensuring that the DOE meets a mandate for energy conservation standards, creates roadblocks to further progress on energy efficiency and reductions to pollutant emissions.

Dana Nessel, March 22, 2019 | Susan J. Demas

“Revisions to this process rule would make it much more difficult for the Department of Energy to create and impose energy efficiency standards,” Nessel said. “Establishing energy efficiency savings standards that encourage steady growth and investment in the environmental arena is working. The revisions to the DOE’s process rule will eliminate the progress that’s been made over the past several years.”

Specifically, the DOE’s revisions include an “impermissibly high” threshold for energy efficiency savings, which the multi-state lawsuit says effectively nixes the adoption of any standard that falls short of it. This, in turn, could result in significant losses in energy savings.

The DOE finalized its proposal to change the process rule in January, with the intent of “modernizing” the rule that had not been updated since its adoption in 1996.

A release from Nessel’s office contends that much of the DOE’s progress on energy efficiency over the years has been achieved through rulemaking under the process rule, but revisions to that very rule could now reverse much of that process. The statement also notes that DOE “unlawfully excepted its action from the environmental review required under the National Environmental Policy Act.”

Joining Michigan in the Court of Appeals lawsuit are the states of California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington, plus the District of Columbia and the city of New York.

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Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins

Laina G. Stebbins is a former Michigan Advance reporter. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service.