By Jessica Corbett
A coalition of 17 states and the District of Columbia is suing the Trump administration for blocking greenhouse gas emissions standards for vehicles that aimed to reduce air pollution and curb U.S. drivers' contributions to the global climate crisis.
In what critics called an "indefensible and frankly embarrassing decision," last month U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt caved to automobile industry lobbyists' demands and announced that his agency is drafting relaxed manufacturing rules for vehicles made between 2022 and 2025.
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A federal judge on Thursday threw out Exxon Mobil's lawsuit that sought to derail New York and Massachusetts' probe into whether the oil giant misled investors and the public about its knowledge of climate change.
Exxon tried to convince U.S. District Court Judge Valerie A. Caproni that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey were infringing on the company's free speech rights and the AGs were pursuing politically motivated investigations.
Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) put a two-year suspension on the rule, also known as Waters of the United States (WOTUS), which protects large water bodies like lakes and rivers but also listed smaller waterways such as streams, ponds and wetlands for federal protection.
New York's highest court dealt ExxonMobil a major blow Tuesday when it declined to hear the oil giant's appeal to block New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's subpoena seeking audit documents in an ongoing fraud investigation of what "Exxon Knew" about the link between fossil fuels and climate change.
The Court of Appeals refused to hear Exxon's assertion that the documents were protected under "accountant-client confidentiality" under state law in Texas, where the company is headquartered.
'A Major Win for New Yorkers': Court of Appeals Upholds State's Denial of Water Quality Certification for Constitution Pipeline
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld New York State's denial of a water quality certification for the Constitution Pipeline Friday, a critical win for the Attorney General's office and the state's authority to take necessary action to protect its waters and natural resources. The appeals court noted that the state is entitled to "conduct its own review of the Constitution Project's likely effects on New York waterbodies and whether those effects would comply with the state's water quality standards."
New York must be able to do what's necessary to protect our environment—and we're glad that the court agreed.
By Andrea Germanos
Eleven states filed suit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its chief, Scott Pruitt, in federal court on Monday over the agency's decision to postpone implementation of a rule aimed at lessening the risk of a chemical plant disaster such as the deadly one that rocked West, Texas in 2013.
"Protecting our workers, first-responders, and communities from chemical accidents should be something on which we all agree. Yet the Trump EPA continues to put special interests before the health and safety of the people they serve," said New York Attorney General Schneiderman, who's leading the lawsuit.
The webpage has gone through several revamps since Ryan Zinke took over the department in March. As reported by Motherboard, the current page, last updated on May 19, stresses "removing burdensome regulations at the Department" and omits language that emphasized developing renewable energy technologies.
I led a coalition of 23 states, cities and counties in opposing President Trump's executive order today that the administration described as paving the way to eliminating the Clean Power Plan rule.
The coalition—which includes the Attorneys General of New York, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and the District of Columbia, as well as the chief legal officers of the cities of Boulder, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, South Miami and Broward County, Florida—issued the following statement today:
By Andrea Germanos
A New York State judge on Wednesday ordered ExxonMobil to turn over a year's worth of emails it now admits it lost from an alias account used by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson when he was CEO of the company—a "bombshell" revelation, according to a lawyer for New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who's investigating the oil giant's climate cover-up.
Despite an understanding of environmental risk and knowledge that international climate action would hurt their bottom line, Exxon aggressively pursued development of carbon-heavy Canadian tar sands for decades, a new investigation from InsideClimate News finds. The investigation is published on the heels of Friday's Canadian carbon tax announcement that could drive down tar sands pricing even further.
In another blow for Exxon, a judge ordered Monday that Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey would not have to appear in Dallas for a deposition.
For a deeper dive:
Commentary: Huffington Post, David Halperin op-ed
By Climate Denier Roundup
Exxon turns from cooperating with NY attorney general's #climate fraud probe to fighting it. https://t.co/H526dfk6Vx https://t.co/Zw4RcAraqQ— InsideClimate News (@InsideClimate News)1476792036.0
Apparently emboldened by last week's ruling that Healy needed to provide the court with evidence that they were not unduly biased in presuming guilt before beginning the investigation, ExxonMobil asked that the same standard be applied to the New York case. For Healy, the Texas District Court must first be satisfied that the investigation wasn't biased before it will decide on whether to throw out ExxonMobil's complaint or force the Attorney General to back down.
Alleging that the investigations are part of a broad conspiracy, Exxon's filing is a reversal of their prior cooperation with Schneiderman. The purported reason for this newfound conspiracy charge are recent media reports that Schneiderman is investigating whether or not ExxonMobil properly accounted for climate risk and stranded assets when valuing its reserves and dealing with investors. It's not clear how big a change this is from the initial investigation but apparently it is enough for ExxonMobil to worry about and to charge that the narrowed scope is a reason to believe Schneiderman is looking for any excuse to persecute the company. (As opposed to simply following where the evidence is leading him and doing his job investigating a potential breach of New York state laws).
In the filing, deemed a meritless delay tacit and "desperate attempt at forum shopping" by a New York Attorney General spokesperson, ExxonMobil claims that Schneiderman's accusations of fraud are without evidence and that Healy declared before the investigation began that the company was guilty. Both Attorney Generals were merely describing the implications of the reporting done by InsideClimate News and the LA Times/Columbia School of Journalism. With that research, they had sufficient evidence to warrant an investigation, as giving millions of dollars to climate denial groups while their own researchers provided consensus-supporting research seems rather duplicitous.
#Exxon in Hot Seat as SEC Investigates #Oil Giant Over Accounting for #ClimateChange https://t.co/dYWtVp5xMT @billmckibben @AnnieMLeonard— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1474463843.0
On a side note, the funding relationship between ExxonMobil and Republican state Attorneys General made a small splash last month. And Rep. Lamar Smith's request for documents from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission about their new investigation has been rebuffed.