MONTPELIER – Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan released the following statement for Earth Day 2019:
“Today is Earth Day and like many Vermonters I care passionately about our natural environment. I am also worried about the threats it faces. We see the effects of climate change here in Vermont with stronger storms, flooding, and increasing annual temperatures.
Let me be clear: Climate change is real. The science is real. The climate crisis is real. The students and others who have marched to the State House this spring show us our fight against climate change is not only the fight of our future but that we have to engage in this fight right now. Vermonters want clean air to breathe and clean water to drink. We want to leave the planet in better shape for our children.
My team and I remain committed to working every day – here in Vermont and on the national level – to do our part to protect Vermont’s environment from harm, but we all have a role to play. Today, on Earth Day, I ask every Vermonter to think about our environment, think about our planet, and take a moment to find a way to do your part.”
Attorney General Donovan also announced the following recent actions taken by his Office:
NEW MULTI-STATE WEBPAGE: A new page on the Attorney General’s website tracks all multi-state environmental actions taken or joined by the Vermont Attorney General’s Office since January 2017: https://ago.vermont.gov/multi-
state-environmental-actions- taken-by-vermont-ago-since- january-2017/
BENNINGTON WATER: Last week, the Attorney General and Governor Phil Scott announced that the State had reached a final agreement with Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corporation to address perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) contamination on the east side of Bennington. As a part of the agreement, 244 homes on the east side of Bennington are eligible to receive municipal water service. When combined with a 2017 settlement that covered Bennington’s west side and North Bennington, the State has now secured the extension of waterlines to 470 homes or businesses in Bennington and North Bennington. Saint-Gobain also agreed to drop its challenge to Vermont’s protective groundwater standard for PFOA.
CLEAN AIR: On April 17th, Attorney General Donovan joined a coalition of 27 state, county and municipal offices to file comments opposing the EPA’s reversal of course on its decision to regulate power plant emissions of mercury and other air toxics under the Clean Air Act. Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA must regulate emissions of hazardous air pollution from power plants if it finds that it is “appropriate and necessary” to do so. Breaking with a precedent that stretches back to 2000, the EPA is now proposing a determination that the cost of regulation outweighs the benefits, and therefore, it is “not appropriate and necessary” to regulate the emissions. Power plants are the nation’s largest source of hazardous air pollution, including acid gases, mercury and other toxic metals such as arsenic, chromium and nickel. Power plant mercury emissions are a major contributor to mercury pollution in the nation’s lakes and streams, which have necessitated fish consumption advisories in all fifty states.
HAZARDOUS WASTE: Late last month, the Attorney General announced a settlement with a Vermont hazardous waste storage company for violations of Vermont’s Hazardous Waste Management Regulations. Through the court-approved settlement, Safety-Kleen Systems, Inc., resolved claims that it failed to properly identify and manage hazardous waste at its Barre, Vermont facility. Safety-Kleen took steps to address the violations to the satisfaction of the State and agreed to pay civil penalties of $70,000.
CLEAN WATER: On April 15th, Attorney General Donovan joined 14 other attorneys general to file comments opposing the new Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule proposed by the EPA and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. The proposed new WOTUS rule would roll back protections for ecologically important wetlands and ephemeral streams. It also disregards the extensive scientific record underlying the 2015 WOTUS rule. The filing of the new WOTUS rule comments continues the active role of the Vermont Attorney General’s Office on clean water, having been active in defending the Clean Water Rule (a rule designed to ensure that the nation’s lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands receive proper and consistent protection under the federal Clean Water Act) and opposing other threatened rollbacks of clean water protections.
PORTLAND PIPELINE: On April 12th, Vermont joined with 13 other states in the filing of an amicus brief in the First Circuit case of Portland Pipe Line Corporation v. City of South Portland Maine. The states’ amicus brief was filed in support of the City of South Portland, Maine as it defends a city ordinance that prohibits bulk oil-loading activities in certain harbor districts. The ordinance effectively prevents the Portland Pipeline from transporting tar sands oil from Canada – through Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine – to ships in the South Portland harbor. The states’ amicus brief argues that the city ordinance is not preempted by federal law and does not violate the dormant Commerce Clause.
ENERGY EFFICIENCY STANDARDS: In early March, Attorney General Donovan joined nine attorneys general and the City of New York to file comments to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) calling for the publication of proposed energy efficiency standards for residential gas furnaces and commercial gas water heaters that would increase energy efficiency from 80% to 92-95%. The comments call upon the DOE to deny a petition filed by the natural gas industry that seeks to roll back the efficiency standards.
CLIMATE CHANGE: Also in March, Attorney General Donovan joined eight other states and the District of Columbia to file an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in the matter of City of Oakland and City of San Francisco v. BP PLC, et al. The amicus brief was filed in support of the rights of states and local governments to promote the public welfare through pursuit of state law climate change related claims in state courts