State AGs Undermine Themselves on Climate

Steve Milloy
By Steve Milloy | March 11, 2019 | 4:24 PM EDT

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 26: New York Attorney General Letitia James spoke to protesters in Times Square near a military recruitment center as they show their anger at President Donald Trump's decision to reinstate a ban on transgender individuals from serving in the military back on July 26, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Liberal attorneys general may have just signaled their intent to sue the pants off the Trump administration just as soon as any of various proposals to rollback Obama climate initiatives are finalized. But if the AGs haven’t just undermined their own impending lawsuits, they certainly have gone a long way toward debunking all the hot air being spluttered over the Obama climate agenda rollback – regardless of your views on climate science.

The New York University School of Law’s State Energy & Environmental Impact Center just issued a report entitled, “Special Report: Six Trump Administration Rollbacks Will Result in More than 200 Million Metric Tons of Additional GHG Emissions Each Year.” Variations of that title were then dutifully regurgitated across the media.

The report focuses on six specific Trump administration proposals estimated to result in higher greenhouse gas emissions including: rollbacks or changes in the Clean Power Plan, fuel economy standards, prohibition on remanufactured or “glider” trucks and various rules meant to reduce methane from oil and gas production, and landfills. The total increase comes to about 200 million tons, on which basis the report concludes: “In short, the Trump administration is preparing to take us over the climate cliff.”

For our purposes, we can just accept at face value that these rule changes would cause emissions to increase by what is touted as a whopping 200 million tons per year by 2025. So will an extra 200 million tons of emissions really take us over the climate cliff?

Not surprisingly, unmentioned in the NYU report and all the media coverage is the inconvenient statistic from the United Nations’ “Emission Gap Report 2018.” The UN reported total manmade emissions in 2017 were estimated to be 53.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent greenhouse gases. 

If you do the rather simple math and divide the cliff-diving 200 million tons of emissions from the Trump rollbacks by the unmentioned 53.5 billion tons from the UN report, you find that the Trump rollbacks would increase global carbon dioxide emissions by a rather un-whopping figure of 0.37 percent per year by 2025. And by that time, the percentage increase would likely be even lower as global emissions continue their inexorable rise and fuel efficiency is increased, thanks to fuel producer technological improvements, 

What’s all this got to do with the state AGs? As reported by the Competitive Enterprise Institute last year, the NYU law school’s State Energy & Environmental Impact Center was given $6 million by Bloomberg Charities for the purpose of providing free legal services to state AGs who wanted to advance the climate agenda without having to spend their own resources doing so. AGs from California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York endorsed the NYU report in the media release. They own this report.

We’ll have to see how the rules and legal challenges unfold, but it sure seems like the 0.37 percent figure ought to be a lot more damaging to the AG lawsuits than the 200 million tons of CO2 is to the climate.

Steve Milloy publishes, served on the Trump EPA transition team is the author of “Scare Pollution: Why and How to Fix the EPA" (Bench Press 2016).

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