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US states sue EPA, Scott Pruitt for rolling back climate change rule

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A group of U.S. states led by New York sued the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday, accusing Administrator Scott Pruitt of trying to illegally roll back limits on the use of climate change pollutants known as hydrofluorocarbons.

Eleven states and the District of Columbia said Pruitt violated the federal Clean Air Act on April 27 by issuing “guidance” that they said effectively rescinded regulations adopted in 2015 under the Obama administration.

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New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood accused the EPA under President Donald Trump of trying “to gut critical climate protection rules through the backdoor,” by revoking the 2015 limits rather than going through a public review process.

The states petitioned the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. to throw out Pruitt’s decision.
An EPA spokeswoman said the agency does not discuss pending litigation.

Hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, are often used in air conditioning, refrigerants, aerosols and foam-blowing.

The EPA had in 2015 estimated that limiting the pollutants’ use could by 2020 reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by 26 million to 31 million metric tons.

Underwood said 30 million metric tons was enough to power 3.2 million homes.

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She also noted that the D.C. Circuit last August upheld EPA authority to declare that HFCs were not safe substitutes for ozone-depleting substances, though it refused to require manufacturers that had replaced such substances with HFCs – when HFCs were thought safe – to switch to something else.

In the April 27 guidance, the EPA said revoking the 2015 limits would “dispel confusion and provide regulatory certainty” for users.

Other states joining Wednesday’s lawsuit include California, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Washington.

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They and New York are among many Democratic-led or -leaning states that have filed lawsuits challenging a long list of Trump administration policies.

Such lawsuits were a central focus of Eric Schneiderman, who preceded Underwood as New York’s attorney general. Schneiderman resigned last month after women accused him of sexual assault.

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Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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Mnuchin threatens to make taxpayers pay back COVID money unless Trump is reelected

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Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin suggested on Sunday that Americans will have to pay the government back for any payroll tax reduction unless President Donald Trump is reelected.

In an interview on FOX, host Chris Wallace noted that the president's latest executive action on COVID-19 financial relief is "not a tax cut."

"It's a payroll tax suspension," Wallace explained. "Isn't there a danger that a lot of businesses won't pass these saving through to workers because they're going to hold on to the money because at some point, according to this executive action by the end of the year, those payroll taxes are going to be have to be paid anyway?"

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2020 Election

‘We need a reality check here’: CNN’s Bash cuts off Kudlow’s rambling spin on Trump’s unemployment plans

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An alternately amused and baffled Dana Bash was forced to cut off Donald Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow on CNN Sunday morning as he attempted to spin the president's plans to help out the unemployed with income supplements, changing his numbers from $400 to $800 to $1,200 all within three to four sentences.

Pressed about the president's executive order calling for a $400 supplement -- with $100 coming from the states at Trump's demand -- the State of the Union fill-in host tried to cut through Kudlow's veering from dollar amount to dollar amount to get a clearer understanding of what the president is proposing.

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Nancy Pelosi owns Chris Wallace: ‘Clearly you don’t have an understanding of what is happening here’

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) faced off against Fox News host Chris Wallace on Sunday over the failure to negotiate a COVID-19 financial relief bill.

In an interview on Fox News Sunday, Wallace suggested that there is an upside to executive actions taken by President Donald Trump in lieu of a financial relief bill because some people will get protections from evictions "rather than getting nothing at all."

For her part, Pelosi quoted a Republican senator who said that the president's executive action is "constitutional slop."

"While he says he's going to have a moratorium on evictions, he's going to ask the folks in charge to study if that's feasible," Pelosi explained before noting that the president's payroll tax holiday serves to "undermine Social Security and Medicare."

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