California AG on Trump EPA: ‘It’s almost as if they believe they’re above the law’

California AG on Trump EPA: ‘It’s almost as if they believe they’re above the law’
© Getty Images

California’s Democratic attorney general slammed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Wednesday, accusing the agency of insufficient transparency and policies that hurt the state under President Trump.

At a National Press Club event in Washington, Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraColorado joins states adopting stricter vehicle emissions standard Overnight Energy: New controversies cap rough week for Pruitt | Trump 'not happy about certain things' with Pruitt | EPA backtracks on suspending pesticide rule EPA backpedals on suspending pesticide rule following lawsuit MORE repeatedly cited a lawsuit he filed regarding a Freedom of Information Act request as evidence that the EPA isn’t being open and forthcoming.

“The issue of the administrator of the EPA refusing to provide documents under the Freedom of Information Act, as he is required by law, is, I believe, an absolute abuse of power and discretion,” Becerra said.

ADVERTISEMENT

“The fact that I have to sue ... the Environmental Protection Agency and its administrator, Mr. [Scott] Pruitt, simply to get access to documents which are public record, is in outrage. It’s unconscionable. It’s almost as if they believe they’re above the law.”

Becerra, a former high-ranking House member whom Gov. Jerry Brown (D) appointed to the law enforcement post in January, requested numerous documents from the EPA in April regarding potential conflicts of interest by Pruitt, who was a vocal critic of the agency before he was chosen to lead it.

“I’m not requesting that as some powerful elected official in the biggest state in the union. I’m doing it because every one of us in the United States of America has a right to request that our government be open and transparent,” he said.

The agency didn’t produce the records by August, leading Becerra to sue. At the time, the EPA criticized Becerra for suing, saying the resources for the case could have been used better elsewhere.

Becerra has also filed numerous lawsuits against the EPA and other agencies over Trump’s environmental policies, in addition to lawsuits over matters like immigration, education and health care.

“By the way, we have not lost a case yet against the federal government on these environmental matters,” he said.

The lawsuits have fought delays, rollbacks and changes to federal methane pollution rules, ozone pollution rules, appliance energy efficiency standards and vehicle fuel efficiency, among other policies.

He framed the court fights as protecting the interests of the citizens and businesses in California, which has a history of very liberal environmental policies.

“I can show you the investments in the billions of dollars that California businesses and consumers have made to make California a cleaner state and a clean energy-producing and using state,” Becerra said. “We’re not about to let someone, because they think they have by fiat the right to change things, all of the sudden impact our consumers, and most importantly our businesses, and put them at a disadvantage with somebody who doesn’t want to be as clean and is willing to be reliant on polluting energies.”