The crisis facing our climate is an existential threat. Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are the highest they have been in 800,000 years. The increase in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases causes the earth to warm. As the global temperature rises, people face extreme weather events like wildfires, drought, and hurricanes. Plant and animal species become endangered. The warming oceans and rising sea levels threaten shorelines. Climate change threatens our health and our economy.
Attorneys general protect the environment, prosecute illegal polluters, and hold the federal government accountable for enforcing environmental laws and standards. Together, they are working to mitigate the effects of climate change and help states reduce their carbon footprint.
Below are examples of actions taken by attorneys general to protect the environment and address the climate crisis:
- After the EPA effectively waived industry compliance with pollution monitoring and reporting due to the COVID-19 pandemic, nine AGs brought a lawsuit against the EPA for non-enforcement of pollution monitoring and reporting during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- A coalition of AGs sued the EPA over its continued failure to address ozone pollution, despite a court mandate to do so.
- A coalition of 21 AGs filed a lawsuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final rule gutting standards that limit emissions of methane, volatile organic compounds, and other hazardous pollutants from new, reconstructed, and modified facilities in the oil and natural gas industry.
- A coalition of 17 AGs filed public comments opposing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal to establish a new, unlawful process for excluding areas from critical habitat designations under the federal Endangered Species Act.
- A coalition of 18 AGs urged the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to affirm a lower court’s ruling shutting down the Dakota Access pipeline because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had failed to fully assess the potential impact of an oil spill on the environment and the natural resources that Native American tribes depend on.
- The AGs for DC, Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia filed a lawsuit against the EPA for failing to protect the Chesapeake Bay and local waters, including the Potomac River, in violation of a multistate agreement to reduce pollution levels.
- A coalition of 15 AGs sued the Trump Administration over its illegal plan to open up the entire Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas lease sales and drilling, a move that will exacerbate the impacts of climate change on communities across the country, threaten natural resources, and devastate birds that migrate through all 50 states.
- A coalition of 23 AGs filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s unlawful final rule curtailing requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act that federal agencies review and assess the impact of their actions on the environment.
- A coalition of 21 AGs filed a lawsuit challenging the EPA’s final rule unlawfully curtailing state authority under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. Section 401 provides states with the authority to approve, impose conditions on, or deny certification for federally permitted projects.
- A coalition of 21 AGs sued the EPA over its rule reversing the agency’s determination — first made nearly 20 years ago — that it is “appropriate and necessary” under the Clean Air Act to regulate mercury and other toxic air pollution from coal- and oil-fired power plants.