Attorneys General Becerra, Ellison, and Rosenblum File Lawsuit Challenging President Trump’s Illegal, Juvenile “Two for One” Executive Order

April 4, 2019
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Executive Order requires agencies to arbitrarily repeal two existing regulations for every new one

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, and Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum filed a lawsuit today in the district court for the District of Columbia seeking to block President Trump’s unlawful “Two for One” Executive Order (Order). The Order, issued on January 30, 2017, requires agencies to repeal at least two existing regulations for every new regulation an agency issues, purportedly to offset costs. As required by the Order, federal agencies must make determinations based on the cost of the proposed regulation, while giving no consideration to the benefit or protections lost by the repeal of existing regulations. In their lawsuit, the Attorneys General assert that the Order ignores the federal government’s responsibility to implement and enforce the laws passed by Congress, including those that protect public health and the environment.

“In the first two years of his term, President Trump has demonstrated an utter contempt for Congressional authority and the role that federal agencies play in protecting Americans,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Repeatedly, he has violated the law and the U.S. Constitution. President Trump’s juvenile ‘Two-for-One’ Executive Order requires agencies to ignore important protections and put our health and environment at risk. Today, we’ve sued to block this irresponsible order. The Trump Administration should formulate rules based on their net benefit to the American people, not on playground memories.”

“Regulation isn’t a good thing or a bad thing in itself: it’s good if it protects the public and promotes the health and welfare of the people, and it’s bad if it doesn’t,” said Attorney General Ellison. “Regulations should be evaluated one at a time and enacted or repealed based on the merit or lack of merit of each one individually: that’s how we should expect government to operate. Arbitrarily sacrificing two or more regulations that protect the public in order to enact another one that might not amounts to the federal government abandoning its duty to protect the public. The harm to Minnesotans’ health, environment, and workplaces is potentially immense.”

“This arbitrary two-for-one executive order is just bad public policy. It forces federal agencies to make potentially bad decisions in order to meet a new policy quota,” said Attorney General Rosenblum. “What this means is that in order to pass a new rule, an agency would have to cut two existing rules without consideration for their importance or value. Imagine if the EPA wanted to enact a new rule to limit air pollution, but was forced to cut two existing rules just to satisfy this new rule? Our federal government should be focused on implementing good policy—not just eliminating policy for the sake of a new mandate.”

In the lawsuit, the Attorneys General allege that the Order, issued over two years ago, harms the states by preventing, delaying, and discouraging federal regulations addressing public health, safety, and environmental concerns. Many regulations proposed by federal agencies have not been finalized due to the Order. The Trump Administration boasts that in the last two years, federal agencies have withdrawn or delayed 1,579 planned regulatory actions. Many of these actions are of critical importance to protect the American public, including rules to address energy conservation, greenhouse gas emissions, and vehicle safety. In complying with the Order and in failing to address these environmental and public safety hazards, federal agencies have violated federal statutes, including the Clean Air Act, the Energy Policy Conservation Act, and the Motor Vehicle Safety Act.

The Attorneys General seek to have the Order declared invalid on the basis that it violates the U.S. Constitution and is unlawful under the Administrative Procedure Act.