FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 14, 2021
Contact: Stephen Read
Full Court Press: New Report Highlights State AGs' Success in Defending Against Trump Administration's Energy and Environmental Deregulatory Agenda
State attorneys general kept many polluter-friendly rollbacks and policy reversals from taking root, while moving the ball forward on environmental justice, clean energy and PFAS contamination.
Washington, D.C. — A new report from the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center at NYU School of Law explores how state attorneys general prevented many of the Trump administration’s most harmful energy, climate and environmental deregulatory priorities from taking root. The new report, titled Full Court Press, highlights a selection of the actions taken by state attorneys general to stop, slow and strike down key elements of the Trump administration’s so-called "energy dominance" agenda. The report also details the affirmative steps that state AGs have taken in pursuit of a cleaner, healthier and more just world for future generations.
“For the past four years, state attorneys general have been on the frontlines of an all-out attack on every facet of our nation’s environmental protection regime. States succeeded and held the line because we were right on the science and right on the law. But our work is far from done. We now are four years further behind in the fights for climate and environmental justice and protection — time that we never had to waste. States like Connecticut will be full partners with the new administration in pushing for bold action to protect our climate and public health and to restore and strengthen environmental protections.”
— Connecticut Attorney General William Tong
“Since day one, science and the rule of law have been under attack by President Trump and the climate deniers and fossil fuel lobbyists he put in charge of the EPA, and we, as state attorneys general, have worked together to hold this Administration accountable and protect our environment and our communities. We’re grateful for the State Impact Center’s partnership over the last four years, its innovation and its passionate defense of critical environmental laws and policies. We’re going to continue our fight until the very end and we look forward to working with an administration that believes in science, clean energy, and protecting the health of our people and planet.”
— Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey
"For four years, the Trump administration has worked to undermine our country’s public health and environmental protections, and, for four years, attorneys general from across the country have come together and successfully pushed back against these efforts in our courts. Through dozens of key legal actions, I am proud to have helped lead the way in the fight to protect the environment, combat climate change, and support the wellness of people. I look forward to continuing this work to ensure a cleaner, healthier future for ourselves and generations to come."
— New York Attorney General Letitia James
“I’m proud to join this coalition of state attorneys general who have spent the last four years tirelessly defending and promoting our most fundamental environmental laws, pollution and chemical regulations and climate protections. We still have a lot of work to do, but the astounding number of actions taken by our coalition — 210 by Oregon alone — has come only by working together, and with the help of the State Impact Center. This comprehensive report is proof that by working together, we can achieve great things for future generations. We will continue to meet these challenges head-on, with equal parts determination and optimism.”
— Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum
The report highlights a selection of actions within into two broad categories: "Holding the Line" and "Moving the Ball."
"Moving the Ball" focuses on actions by state AGs in federal agency rulemaking processes and in the courts that prevented the Trump administration from cementing its retrograde climate and energy policies and reversing regulatory protections for our nation's air, waters, wildlife, public lands and public health. The report highlights actions that are illustrative of state AGs' broader defensive efforts, but is not comprehensive; AGs are also engaged on many other fronts, including protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil and gas drilling, preventing the rollback of endangered species protections and defending states' authority under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act.
"Holding the Line" highlights efforts by state AGs to advance three key affirmative priorities: championing clean energy, fighting for environmental justice and addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) contamination.
HOLDING THE LINE
In the early weeks and months of the Trump administration, newly installed political leadership at the Environmental Protection Agency and the Energy and Interior Departments short-circuited ongoing rulemakings, moved to delay impending compliance deadlines and ignored statutory directives from Congress. As the report outlines, state attorneys general — together with environmental groups, public health advocates, scientists, state regulators, activists and an engaged public — stepped in quickly to fill the power vacuum, and stood their ground to prevent the Trump administration from freely implementing its agenda. Together, they:
Kept Climate in the Game, by:
- Upholding obligations to address power sector carbon emissions
- Keeping auto emissions reductions on track
- Preventing unlimited methane emissions from the oil & gas industry
- Blunting the attack on California’s climate cap-and-trade program
Fought for Clean Air & Clean Water, by:
- Preventing EPA from letting upwind polluters off the hook
- Defending Clean Water Act protections for wetlands & upland waterways
- Defeating a Trump-supported Clean Water Act loophole
Protected America’s Wildlife & Public Lands, by:
- Blocking attempts to allow the reckless killing of migratory birds
- Turning back plans to expand offshore oil & gas drilling
Stopped Retrograde Energy Actions, by:
- Defeating the Energy Department’s push for a coal bailout
- Challenging energy suppliers’ “resilience” claims
- Securing energy efficiency gains
MOVING THE BALL
While working tirelessly to hold the Trump administration to account, state attorneys general simultaneously ramped up efforts to advance their own affirmative agendas through other channels. State attorneys general:
Championed Clean Energy, by:
- Promoting states’ ability to implement clean energy requirements
- Protecting states’ net metering programs
- Advocating for due process at FERC
Fought for Environmental Justice, by:
- Establishing environmental justice divisions and initiatives
- Elevating environmental justice concerns in regulatory processes
- Protecting farmworkers & their families from pesticide exposure
Addressed PFAS Contamination, by:
- Holding polluters accountable
- Pushing for regulatory action
- Advocating for PFAS provisions in defense authorization legislation
Read the full report here.
About the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center
The State Energy & Environmental Impact Center (State 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 advocate for clean energy, climate change, and environmental values and protections. For more information, visit our website.