As the chief law enforcement officers of their states, state attorneys general have a responsibility to protect the health and welfare of their constituents, economies and natural resources. State attorneys general play a unique and important role in the global fight for climate action, and have been at the forefront of some of the most important victories in this area.
State attorneys general have consistently served as a check against federal inaction on climate change — beginning with Massachusetts v. EPA, the historic victory over the Bush administration that cemented the Environmental Protection Agency’s legal authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
State attorneys general are currently leading important legal challenges to the Trump administration’s deregulatory efforts, including the rollback of restrictions on methane emissions, the freezing of national Clean Car Standards, and the replacement of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan with the so-called “Affordable Clean Energy” rule — a regulation more oriented toward facilitating continued coal plant pollution than implementing legally-required reductions in carbon dioxide emissions. State attorneys general also have advocated for the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate hydrofluorocarbons, a potent greenhouse gas, under the Clean Air Act.
In these cases, and many others, state attorneys general have initiated actions to force the federal government to fulfill its legal obligations and address climate pollution.