California, Oregon and Minnesota sued President Donald Trump and several top cabinet officials over the administration’s requirement that federal agencies delete two regulations for every one they add.
Lodged by three Democratic state attorneys general, the lawsuit asserts that Trump’s January 2017 executive order and accompanying Office of Management and Budget guidance violate the U.S. Constitution’s separation-of-powers principle. It also argues the order is in breach of the president’s responsibility to faithfully implement laws and regulations.
“The order and guidance cannot lawfully be enforced under any circumstances,” according to the attorney generals’ complaint, filed in federal court in Washington on Thursday.
The Justice Department declined to comment on the lawsuit. Representatives of the White House and the Office of Management and Budget didn’t immediately respond to emails seeking comment.
At the center of the complaint is Trump’s requirement that federal agencies fully offset the costs of any new regulation by removing existing rules that impose equal or greater cost, without regard for the broader impact of the changes. The Office of Management and Budget was granted the power to block any rule-making not in accord with the directive, according to the lawsuit.
Federal regulations require that the president start each year by proposing a new budget. Those rules don’t authorize the president to force government agencies to offset the cost of new rules by eliminating old ones, the states argue.
“The president cannot delegate authority he does not have,” the complaint says.
California and its allies say their case will survive where earlier litigation by good-government groups failed, because states have “proprietary interests” in federal rule-making on behalf of their citizens.
U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss ruled in February 2018 that a lawsuit led by Public Citizen to invalidate the rule failed to show the legal harm needed to pursue the case. It was dismissed. The plaintiffs won permission to file an amended suit and did so.
The states argue that multiple regulations proposed by agencies under the Obama administration haven’t been finalized under Trump because of the executive order. The Environmental Protection Agency cited the order when rescinding portions of the 2017 Accidental Release Prevention Requirements, including rules intended to prevent chemical accidents like an April 2013 explosion at West Fertilizer Co. in Texas that killed 15 people.
Mick Mulvaney, the president’s budget director and acting chief of staff, is among the administration officials named as defendants in the case. Among the others are Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler.
The case is California v. Trump, 19-cv-960, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).
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