Issue Briefs

Congress: Opportunities for Attorneys General in Environmental, Energy, and Climate Policy

An illustration of the US capitol building.


State attorneys general seeking to engage on environmental, clean energy, and climate issues may be interested in pursuing options in the current 117th Congress (2021-2023). There are many available levers for this. Significant weight is given to attorneys general (AGs) who reach out directly to members of Congress about their concerns. And in recent years, some state attorneys general have successfully included greater involvement in Congress’ actions within the scope of their advocacy.

Examples of recent and successful outreach include: In February 2017, attorneys general successfully wrote to the Senate to urge it to oppose a Congressional Review Act repeal of the Bureau of Land Management’s Methane Waste Prevention rule. In 2018 and 2019, coalitions of attorneys general staved off the steepest of the proposed cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) budget and beat back antienvironmental policy riders in the annual appropriations processes.

In April 2020, attorneys general submitted testimony in support of hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) phasedown legislation that was eventually included in COVID-19 relief legislation in 2021.

This issue brief provides an overview of possible steps that an advocate can take to pursue congressional action advancing climate, environmental justice, and clean energy goals. In addition, in order to illustrate the available routes, the brief provides an overview of recent AG efforts, along with the results of those actions.