Attorney General Frosh files two suits against fed agencies

Attorney General Frosh files two...

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Maryland Attorney General Frosh joined groups of Attorneys Generals from across the nation filing lawsuits against both the U.S. Education Department and the EPA.

Frosh joined a coalition of 18 states in suing the U.S. Department of Education and Secretary Betsy DeVos for abandoning critical federal protections that were set to go into effect on July 1, 2017, and a coalition of six Attorneys General in taking legal action against the Trump administration over a toxic pesticide shown to harm children's neurological development.

The complaint against the Department of Education argues it violated federal law by abruptly rescinding its Borrower Defense Rule, which was designed to hold abusive higher education institutions accountable for cheating students and taxpayers out of billions of dollars in federal loans.

The rule was finalized by the Obama administration in November 2016 after nearly two years of negotiations, following the collapse of Corinthian Colleges.

“Maryland has thousands of students who have been victimized by Corinthian and other deceitful for-profit schools,” said Attorney General Frosh. “The law requires, and we demand, that the Department of Education implement the rules that protect our students from predatory practices.”

In May 2017, Secretary DeVos announced that the Department was re-evaluating the Borrower Defense Rule. On June 14, the Department announced its intent to delay large portions of the Borrower Defense Rule without soliciting, receiving, or responding to any comment from any stakeholder or member of the public, and without engaging in a public deliberative process. The Department simultaneously announced its intent to issue a new regulation to replace the Borrower Defense Rule.

Frosh argues without the protections of the current Borrower Defense Rule, many students harmed by the misconduct of for-profit schools are unable to seek a remedy in court. The Borrower Defense Rule limits the ability of schools to require students to sign mandatory arbitration agreements and class action waivers, commonly used by for-profit schools to avoid negative publicity and to thwart legal actions by students who have been harmed by schools’ abusive conduct.

In March 2017, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt took action that allowed the continued use of chlorpyrifos on food crops even while the agency failed to identify a safe level for the pesticide. Chlorpyrifos is widely used on crops, including on fruits and vegetables, and is shown to negatively impact proper development and functioning of the central nervous system and brain.

The Attorneys General charge that the EPA failed to make a key safety finding needed to continue to allow levels of chlorpyrifos on fruits and vegetables consumed by the public.

On March 29, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt issued an administrative order denying the 2007 petition by the non-governmental organizations, and blocked the proposed rule revoking chlorpyrifos tolerances.

According to Frosh's office, Administrator Pruitt's March 2017 order puts off until October 2022, any decision on whether to revoke or modify current residues or tolerances for the pesticide.

Chlorpyrifos has been subjected to regulatory review for nearly 20 years, and its toxic harms are well-documented.  Most recently, EPA's own scientists twice were unable to identify a safe level for the pesticide on food.

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