300 and Counting: State AGs Lead the Fight for Health and the Environment

A striped map of the United States.

Exec­u­tive Summary

Since tak­ing office, the Trump admin­is­tra­tion has engaged in a con­cert­ed, across-the-board attempt to weak­en many of our nation’s bedrock health, safe­ty and envi­ron­men­tal laws. Unless stopped, these efforts will have pro­found consequences:

  • The adverse impacts of cli­mate change — includ­ing severe prop­er­ty dam­age and loss of life — will accelerate;
  • Our air and water qual­i­ty will decline, hit­ting the most vul­ner­a­ble Amer­i­cans espe­cial­ly hard;
  • Oil and gas and oth­er pri­vate, extrac­tive indus­tri­al activ­i­ties will be pri­or­i­tized over con­ser­va­tion, recre­ation and wildlife uses of our pub­lic lands and off­shore ocean resources;
  • Our com­mu­ni­ties will be exposed to dan­ger­ous chem­i­cals and major indus­tri­al disasters.

State attor­neys gen­er­al have mount­ed a vig­or­ous defense against the administration’s assaults on our envi­ron­men­tal, cli­mate and clean ener­gy val­ues. Since the start of the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, state attor­neys gen­er­al have tak­en 300 actions to advance laws and poli­cies cov­er­ing air, water, tox­i­cs, clean ener­gy and oth­er envi­ron­men­tal issues. They have exposed the administration’s efforts for what they are: unsup­port­able, poor­ly rea­soned attempts to twist the law and the facts so that fos­sil fuel and oth­er indus­try inter­ests can shift cli­mate and con­ven­tion­al pol­lu­tion risks to the rest of us, typ­i­cal­ly under the false guise of harm­less dereg­u­la­to­ry” actions.

Thank­ful­ly, state attor­neys gen­er­al have cre­at­ed an effec­tive defen­sive shield that, to date, has blunt­ed the worst of the administration’s anti-envi­ron­men­tal agen­da. Out of 28 envi­ron­men­tal cas­es tracked by the NYU Insti­tute for Pol­i­cy Integri­ty, for exam­ple, the admin­is­tra­tion has won only once. But the most sig­nif­i­cant bat­tles are now get­ting under­way. More dan­ger lies ahead; the fight is far from over.

To assist inter­est­ed par­ties in keep­ing track of the impor­tant work of attor­neys gen­er­al on clean ener­gy, cli­mate and envi­ron­men­tal mat­ters, this report announces the launch of a search­able Attor­ney Gen­er­al Actions” data­base that will enable users to more eas­i­ly access and review the 300 sig­nif­i­cant reg­u­la­to­ry and legal actions under­tak­en by attor­neys general.

This report also culls rep­re­sen­ta­tive actions from the large body of state attor­ney gen­er­al activ­i­ty in the clean ener­gy, cli­mate and envi­ron­men­tal are­na. Our goal is not to cov­er the water­front, but instead to high­light some of the administration’s most seri­ous assaults on our envi­ron­men­tal val­ues and key actions that attor­neys gen­er­al are tak­ing in response. To do so, the report presents short takes on six major topics:

  • The Fail­ure to Con­front Cli­mate Change
  • The Rever­sion to Dirt­i­er, Unhealthy Air Quality
  • The Weak­en­ing of Clean Water Protections
  • The Exploita­tion of Our Pub­lic Lands & Wildlife
  • The Under­min­ing of Clean Ener­gy & Ener­gy Efficiency
  • The Fail­ure to Keep Amer­i­cans Safe from Chem­i­cal Acci­dents and Dan­ger­ous Toxics