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Climate Progress at Climate Week

A yellow road sign with a large black arrow pointing right / forward; in the background, vast mountains.

Hap­py Cli­mate Week! Host­ed annu­al­ly with the UN and the UN Cli­mate Change Con­fer­ence of the Par­ties (COP), Cli­mate Week pro­vides the chance for busi­ness­es, gov­ern­ments, and non-gov­ern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions to come togeth­er to assess progress on cli­mate action and on achiev­ing the goals of the Paris Agree­ment in advance of the inter­na­tion­al cli­mate con­fer­ence (26th COP) in Novem­ber. This Cli­mate Week, it is a great time to look at the many pro­ceed­ings that state attor­neys gen­er­al have been active in this year.

As lit­i­ga­tors and advo­cates, state attor­neys gen­er­al have many steps they can take and have tak­en to meet the Paris Agreement’s cli­mate goals. A big pol­i­cy win is up first. Late spring, a coali­tion of five attor­neys gen­er­al sub­mit­ted com­ments with the Army Corps of Engi­neers on For­mosa Plas­tics’ plan to build a petro­chem­i­cal plant in St. James Parish, Louisiana. The com­ments urged the agency to con­sid­er the plant’s sig­nif­i­cant green­house gas emis­sions and con­comi­tant con­tri­bu­tion to the glob­al cli­mate cri­sis” and to address the dis­pro­por­tion­ate impacts the plant would have on low-income, Black com­mu­ni­ties in the area. Just recent­ly, and after that let­ter was sub­mit­ted, the Corps announced it would pre­pare an envi­ron­men­tal impact state­ment for the plant, ana­lyz­ing the cli­mate, envi­ron­men­tal jus­tice, and cul­tur­al impacts of the plant.

Attor­neys gen­er­al have filed a flur­ry of oth­er com­ments in the past few months. In June, twelve attor­neys gen­er­al urged the Secu­ri­ties and Exchange Com­mis­sion to require com­pa­nies to issue detailed, mean­ing­ful dis­clo­sures relat­ed to the impacts of cli­mate change on the com­pa­ny.” They argued that cli­mate risk dis­clo­sure will allow Amer­i­cans to make bet­ter-informed choic­es about where to invest their mon­ey and how much cli­mate risk they are will­ing to tol­er­ate.

In July, a coali­tion of four­teen attor­neys gen­er­al filed com­ments with the Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency (EPA) in sup­port of the agency’s pro­pos­al to slash pro­duc­tion and con­sump­tion of the potent green­house gas­es hydro­flu­o­ro­car­bons (HFCs) 85% by 2036, ask­ing the agency to swift­ly final­ize and begin imple­ment­ing the rule. The final ver­sion of the rule was issued today.

As dis­cussed in more detail in today’s newslet­ter, state AGs have been busy in mul­ti­ple pro­ceed­ings just dur­ing the past two weeks, with mul­ti­state coali­tions weigh­ing in on ener­gy effi­cien­cy stan­dard updates and ask­ing Con­gress to include strong cli­mate pro­vi­sions as the House and Sen­ate con­sid­er infra­struc­ture and bud­get rec­on­cil­i­a­tion leg­is­la­tion. AGs also called on the Nation­al High­way Traf­fic Safe­ty Admin­is­tra­tion (NHT­SA) to rein­state a con­gres­sion­al­ly-man­dat­ed adjust­ment to the fines vehi­cle man­u­fac­tur­ers pay for fail­ing to meet fuel econ­o­my stan­dards for cars.

Speak­ing of cars, look out next week as com­ments are due on the EPA’s pro­posed rule to strength­en the green­house gas emis­sions stan­dards for light-duty vehi­cles for 2023 and lat­er mod­el years. The pro­posed rule would kick to the curb the so-called Safer Afford­able Fuel-Effi­cient rule that weak­ened emis­sions stan­dards adopt­ed in 2012 in favor of a rule that would reduce emis­sions by 10% in mod­el year 2023 vehi­cles and 5% each year after­wards.

These AG actions help high­light how mul­ti­fac­eted cli­mate work is. As Cli­mate Week engages advo­cates and the pub­lic in events to exam­ine cli­mate jus­tice, trans­mis­sion, and a pletho­ra of oth­er top­ics, agen­cies are busy with pol­i­cy and reg­u­la­to­ry changes to pro­tect the envi­ron­ment, cli­mate, and human health, includ­ing cut­ting HFCs, reduc­ing vehi­cle emis­sions, and updat­ing ener­gy effi­cien­cy stan­dards. And there is plen­ty more to come as a busy sum­mer leads into a busy fall.