Pruitt’s Deregulatory Agenda Stalled Once Again with New State Attorneys General Lawsuit

15 state AGs sue EPA for violating the law by failing to control methane pollution

AGs have taken 38 actions against Pruitt’s EPA, including 10 lawsuits halting rollbacks

April 5, 2018

Washington, D.C.— New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is leading a coalition of 15 state attorneys general in suing EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt for failing to control harmful methane emissions from existing oil and gas sources – which is required by the Clean Air Act. The suit was filed today in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

“A bad week for Scott Pruitt has just gotten worse,” said David J. Hayes, executive director of the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center. “Contrary to popular belief, Administrator Pruitt has not succeeded in carrying out the Administration’s regulatory agenda – he’s merely violated the law and hit a brick wall of state attorneys general. Governing by press release – instead of following processes required by law – does not make an Administrator a success.”  

Most state attorney general environmental actions since the start of the Trump Administration have come against EPA. Today’s lawsuit marks the tenth filed against EPA by state attorneys general. Other lawsuits have sought to:

1.     Block the “unlawful” delay of the Clean Water Rule (2/6/18);

2.     Force EPA to protect residents from out-of-state air pollution (2/26/17);

3.     Ensure EPA designates areas of the country impacted by smog (12/5/17);

4.     Force a response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests (8/11/17);

5.     Compel EPA to enforce a rule that protects communities and first responders from dangerous chemicals (7/25/17);

6.     Challenge approval of the use of a dangerous pesticide on foods (7/6/17);

7.     Force EPA to regulate leaks of greenhouse gases from new oil and gas sources (6/20/17);

8.     Challenge delay of the Clean Power Plan (4/5/2017); and

9.     Preserve a rule that reduces greenhouse gas emissions from trucks (1/24/17).

In addition to Attorney General Schneiderman, the attorneys general from the following states joined in filing the lawsuit: California; Connecticut; Illinois; Iowa; Maine; Massachusetts; Maryland; New Mexico; Oregon; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; Vermont; Washington; Washington, D.C. Read statements released today from attorneys general on the new methane lawsuit:

  • STATEMENT: New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman
  • STATEMENT: California Attorney General Becerra
  • STATEMENT: Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson
  • STATEMENT: Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin


EPA also has delayed initiation of the companion rulemaking that the Clean Air Act requires for the control of methane emissions from existing sources in the oil and gas industry. Attorneys general are challenging EPA's failure to establish existing source guidelines. In June 2017, they filed a notice of intent to sue EPA for failing to establish these guidelines for standards of performance for methane emissions from existing oil and gas operations.

This filing noted that EPA's regulation of new sources "triggered its mandatory obligation under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act to issue guidelines for limiting methane emissions from existing sources in this category" and that EPA had unreasonably delayed proceeding with a rulemaking under section 111(d).

The attorneys general noted, in that regard, the inappropriateness of EPA's "hasty withdrawal" in early March 2017 of an information collection request that had been issued during the prior Administration. EPA already had begun to receive the requested information from oil and gas operators when EPA withdrew the methane information collection request "without any notice or opportunity for comment," and without providing any "rational basis" for doing so. 

A February 2018 State Energy & Environmental Impact Center report, “State Attorneys General: 13 Months of Critical Actions,” shows that state attorneys general have taken more than 80 actions to advance and defend progressive clean energy, climate and environmental laws and policies since January 2017. 

ABOUT THE STATE ENERGY & ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT CENTER: The State Energy & Environmental Impact Center is a non-partisan Center at the NYU School of Law that is dedicated to helping state attorneys general fight against regulatory rollbacks and advance clean energy, climate change, and environmental values and protections. It was launched in August 2017 with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies. For more information, visit