Press Release

Twenty-Three AGs File Lawsuit Challenging EPA’s Affordable Clean Energy Rule

Joined by six major cities, coalition follows through on pledge to protect public health and combat climate change by fighting ACE rule in court.

Washington, D.C. New York Attorney General Letitia James led a coalition of 23 state attorneys general in filing a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit yesterday challenging the so-called Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule, the Environmental Protection Agency’s final rollback of the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan.

“The science is indisputable; our climate is changing. Ice caps are melting. Sea levels are rising. Weather is becoming more and more extreme,” said Attorney General James. “Without significant course correction, we are careening towards a climate disaster. Rather than staying the course with policies aimed at fixing the problem and protecting people’s health, safety, and the environment, the Trump Administration repealed the Clean Power Plan and replaced it with this ‘Dirty Power’ rule. My office, and this groundbreaking coalition of states and cities from across the nation, will fight back against this unlawful, do-nothing rule in order to protect our future from catastrophic climate change.”

The attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Washington, D.C. and Wisconsin joined New York in filing the lawsuit. The City of Boulder, the City of Chicago, the City of Los Angeles, the City of New York, the City of Philadelphia and the City of South Miami also joined the coalition.


  • California: “President Trump’s attempt to gut our nation’s Clean Power Plan is foolish. It’s also unlawful,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “His fossil fuel protection plan fails everyone who stands for cleaner air. And it fails our economy, which depends on clean energy now more than ever. We know what our energy future must look like, and we won’t get there by following President Trump’s misguided proposal. Because we’re prepared to confront the climate crisis head-on, we’re prepared to confront President Trump head on in court.”
  • Colorado: “Because Colorado’s economy relies on our natural resources, we are among the first to witness the effects of climate change. The EPA’s rollback of clean air standards and climate rules and their proposed replacement undermine the rule of law and the work Colorado has already done to advance clean energy solutions and curb harmful emissions,” said Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser. “Protecting our land, air, and water is a top priority for the Attorney General’s Office. We owe it to future generations to ensure that climate change is treated as a serious threat and that the rule of law is fairly applied.”
  • Connecticut: “I believe in science. Climate change is real and if we do nothing to curb our reliance on fossil fuels we are dooming future generations and our planet,” said Connecticut Attorney General William Tong. “The Dirty Power rule is a craven, political attempt to protect Trump’s toxic allies in the fossil-fuel industry from the change we all know is urgently required. Trump and his Big Pollution friends need to stop prolonging this inevitable shift, and start truly investing in clean, renewable and affordable power.”
  • Hawaii: “The ACE rule conflicts with the Clean Air Act,” said Hawaii Attorney General Clare Connors. “Ignoring the direct impacts of climate change in this manner may cause irreversible, adverse effects on our state.”
  • Illinois: “The people of Illinois and around the country cannot afford the impact of unchecked climate change,” said Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul. “The EPA’s Affordable Clean Energy rule is a huge step backward in the effort to address the devastating effects of climate change. It is a misguided policy that ignores the science of climate change and will prolong the nation’s reliance on polluting, expensive coal power plants, and will reverse progress toward clean, renewable, affordable energy.”
  • Maine: “Fossil-fueled power plants are major sources of climate change pollution,” said Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey. “Beyond the impacts that climate change itself has on Maine’s natural resources and economy, we also know that emissions from these plants — including plants outside of Maine — pollute our air and water. Rolling back rules to limit this type of pollution violates the federal Clean Air Act, and will result in negative consequences for Mainers’ health, economic well-being, and way of life.”
  • Maryland: “The EPA continues to prioritize the coal industry over clean, renewable energy,” said Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh. “The decision to implement the ‘Dirty Power’ rule will have long-lasting effects on public health. It will accelerate climate change at a time when we desperately need action to reverse it.”
  • Massachusetts: “The coal lobbyists and climate deniers running the Trump Administration wrote every word of this illegal and dangerous rule,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. “We are suing to stand up for science, uphold federal law, and protect the environment and the health of our residents and future generations.”
  • Michigan: “My colleagues and I are deeply concerned with the blatant disregard the Trump administration has for science and the imminent threat to all presented by climate change,” said Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. “The Clean Power Plan was an important step in the right direction to protect our environment and public health. We will not back down from this fight as our country and the entire world will be negatively affected by Trump’s Dirty Power Rule.”
  • New Jersey: “Just like its name says, the Environmental Protection Agency has a clear job: to protect our environment,” said New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal. “But EPA’s latest rule does nothing of the kind. At a time when experts call on us to combat the threat of climate change, Washington refuses to hold the biggest polluters accountable. Not only is that bad policy, but it’s wrong on the law. EPA is required to make sure power plants are using the best technology to reduce their emissions. This rule instead gives power plants and the coal industry a blank check to keep on putting our environment and health at risk. That’s why I’m proud to join AGs from across the country in fighting to stop it.”
  • North Carolina: “The Clean Power Plan is essential to addressing the climate change crisis and beneficial for our economy and health,” said North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein. “The Trump administration’s replacement rule does nothing to address this crisis or protect us, and it violates the Clean Air Act in the process. The Dirty Power rule is exactly the wrong policy at exactly the wrong time. I’m committed to using my authority to uphold the law and protect our environment.”
  • Vermont: “Today’s action is the latest step in our fight for the Clean Power Plan,” said Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan. “The climate crisis is real. It is already impacting Vermont with increasingly severe storms and rising temperatures that threaten our maple and snow sport industries. The Clean Power Plan plays a key role in protecting our environment. My office has been fighting for the Clean Power Plan — and our environment — for years and we’re not going to stop.”
  • Virginia: “The Trump Administration has made no attempts to even pretend like they are concerned about climate change in our country and this replacement of the Clean Power Plan makes that painfully obvious,” said Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring. “Virginia is particularly susceptible to the devastating effects of climate change and sea level rise, especially in Hampton Roads where the region is facing billions of dollars in infrastructure and coastal resiliency measures over the next few decades. I will continue to fight this new ‘Dirty Power’ rule and do everything I can to ensure that effective measures are put in place to cut down on pollution and reverse climate change in our country.”
  • Washington: “This rule is yet another example of the Trump Administration pandering to fossil fuel industry interests at the expense of human health and the environment,” said Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson. “The Trump Administration’s new ‘Affordable Clean Energy’ rule is neither affordable nor clean. It’s a thinly veiled attempt to loosen restrictions on coal power plants, allowing them to operate much longer than they should, increasing air pollution and carbon emissions. Trump’s EPA repeatedly falls short of its duty to protect the environment, and it shows — Washington has won seven cases challenging the EPA’s shortsighted decisions.”
  • Wisconsin: “Climate change is not only real; it’s a crisis,” said Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul. “We’re only beginning to see its effects, including severe flooding and extreme temperatures. We can’t afford to wait for 20 years or a decade to take meaningful action. We need to step up now and to start responding to the climate crisis like our kids’ future depends on it — because it does.”


About the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center:
The State Energy & Environmental Impact Center at NYU School of Law is a nonpartisan academic center at NYU School of Law. The Center is dedicated to working towards a healthy and safe environment, guided by inclusive and equitable principles. The Center studies and supports the work of state attorneys general (AGs) in defending, enforcing, and promoting strong laws and policies in the areas of climate, environmental justice, environmental protection, and clean energy.