Dem AGs pledge to keep suing Trump admin over environmental policies

Dem AGs pledge to keep suing Trump admin over environmental policies
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A group of Democratic state attorneys general has taken 80 legal actions against the Trump administration over environmental policies, and is promising even more.

A report released by a group helping the attorneys general outlined the lawsuits and other actions in areas like greenhouse gas pollution, energy efficiency, methane, water pollution, ozone and more, often resulting in victories.

Four of the attorneys general told reporters Tuesday that they will not relent in their legal fights.

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Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said the Trump administration “doesn't respect the rule of law, they don't believe in science, and most important, they don't believe they have a duty to stewardship over natural resources and public lands. And that has resulted in series of actions that are flat-out illegal.”

“They’re not interested in facts. They’re not interested in data,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. “And I think as lawyers, we make our cases based on the law, and based on the facts. And that’s why we’re going to continue to fight these fights, and I think that’s why we’re going to continue to be successful … when that’s lacking.”

District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine and California Attorney General Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraOvernight Energy: Trump rolls back methane pollution rule | EPA watchdog to step down | China puts tariffs on US gas Trump administration weakens methane pollution standards for drilling on public lands Judge rules against DeVos rollback of Obama-era student loan regulations MORE joined in.

“I don’t think they’ve demonstrated they have the desire or the capacity to handle this in a way they would handle a change in policy that was thoroughly vetted and scientifically explored and based on evidence,” Becerra said.

Across the federal government, agencies have faced dozens of lawsuits by Democratic attorneys general seeking to stop regulatory rollbacks, challenge new policies, force new rules or achieve other ends.

The strategy has been particularly pronounced in the environment and clean energy space, where the administration’s Environmental Protection Agency, Interior Department, Energy Department and other agencies have been aggressive in delaying, changing or eliminating rules.

New York University’s School of Law, with the help of Michael Bloomberg, is helping the Democrats with a new initiative called the State Energy & Environment Impact Center.

The center, helmed by former Obama administration Interior official David Hayes, is helping coordinate and provide resources and staff to attorneys generals’ offices to fight for progressive environmental policies.

“In order to bring cases that matter, you need expertise and obviously you need resources. And in every regard, working with the State Impact Center gives us both expertise and resources,” said Racine.

Many of the victories so far have been on initial Trump administration actions to delay regulations, and courts have found that the administration skipped steps in the process.

The attorneys general said that shows a pattern, and that administration officials are likely to keep being sloppy.

“There’s a reason that they didn’t want to go about following the Administrative Procedures Act or initiating rulemaking properly. Because when you do that, you have to do things like open up a proposed rule for a comment period,” said Healey.