State Attorneys General Environmental Actions

The Sabin Center has partnered with StateAG.org to develop a database of environmental actions undertaken by state attorneys general as they seek to advance environmental law and policy objectives within their jurisdictions. The database includes legal actions initiated by state attorneys general against the federal government, private actors, and other public entities; defensive actions taken in support of federal and state rules; amicus briefs; regulatory petitions and other forms of participation in administrative proceedings; legislative inputs (e.g., congressional testimony and bill proposals); and other types of interventions.

The database includes some of the major and innovative actions aimed at advancing the ball on environmental law and policy. It does not encompass all of the routine enforcement actions undertaken by state attorneys general.

Below you can filter actions by topic, type or jurisdiction or browse/search a table of all actions.

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2017-04-07 California AG Freedom of Information Act Request to EPA Head Scott Pruitt Environmental Ethics Other

California sent a Freedom of Information Act Request to the EPA for documents related to EPA head Scott Pruitt’s conflicts of interest.

California
2017-03-31 New York v. DOE Climate Change Mitigation, Energy Lawsuit vs. Federal Government

Multi-state lawsuit challenging the federal government’s decision to delay the effective dates of final rules governing energy efficiency for six products.

California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington
2017-03-13 Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers v. EPA Climate Change Mitigation Defense of Federal Standards

California and Connecticut intervened in lawsuit challenging EPA’s determination to retain existing GHG emission standards for light-duty vehicles.

California, Connecticut
2017-01-19 New York v. McCarthy Air Pollution Lawsuit vs. Federal Government

Multi-state lawsuit challenging EPA failure to act on petition requesting that the agency regulate ozone pollution from sources in upwind states.

Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont
2016-12-22 At-Home Drug Disposal Kits Water Pollution Other

Connecticut AG partnered with other government and private entities to provide kits for the safe disposal of prescription medication, one goal being to reduce water pollution.

Connecticut
2016-12-19 Flint Water Crisis Investigation Environmental Justice, Water Pollution Criminal Case, Lawsuit v. Other Public Entity, Lawsuit vs. Private Actors

Michigan AG launched investigation to determine criminal and civil liability for violations of state law that caused or contributed to the Flint Water Crisis.

Michigan
2016-12-08 Washington v. Monsanto Natural Resources, Pesticides & Toxics Lawsuit vs. Private Actors

Washington sued Monsanto for damages to the state’s natural resources and cleanup costs associated with pollution from PCBs.

Washington
2016-10-27 Connecticut v. Hyundai Motor Co. Air Pollution, Climate Change Mitigation Lawsuit vs. Private Actors

Multi-state settlement of consumer-protection claims against car manufacturers that overstated their vehicles’ fuel efficiency.

Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin
2016-10-21 New Jersey v. Centennial Land & Development Corp. Natural Resources Lawsuit vs. Private Actors

New Jersey AG represented New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection in action against developer, holding company for developer, and company’s owner seeking to enforce prior directives to effect repairs and maintenance as required by the Safe Dam Act.

New Jersey
2016-10-01 Amendments to Proposition 65 Regulations Pesticides & Toxics Other

California Attorney General amended regulations under Proposition 65, a California disclosure law related to exposure to toxic chemicals.

California
2016-08-15 North Dakota v. EPA (methane) Air Pollution, Climate Change Mitigation Defense of Federal Standards

Twelve states joined in defense of EPA’s new source performance standards for methane and VOC emissions from the oil and gas sector.

California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington
2016-07-07 Settlement, California v. Volkswagen Air Pollution Lawsuit vs. Private Actors

California AG, working with the federal EPA, entered into two related settlements over Volkswagen’s use of defeat devices to evade emissions testing.

California
2016-06-28 Settlement with Volkswagen for Emissions Defeat Devices Air Pollution Lawsuit vs. Private Actors

Settlement of consumer protection claims raised by a multi-state coalition of state attorneys general against Volkswagen for selling vehicles equipped with “defeat device” software intended to circumvent emissions standards and concealing this software from regulators and the public.

Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming
2016-06-22 Congressional Testimony on Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Amendments Pesticides & Toxics Legislative Input

Letters and testimony providing recommendations on federal legislation amending the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to revise the process and requirements for evaluating and determining whether regulatory control of a chemical is warranted.

California, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington
2016-05-18 Green 20 State AG Coalition Climate Change Mitigation Other

Group of 17 state AGs and Former Vice President Al Gore announced a coalition of states committed to taking creative steps to combat climate change, including investigations into fossil fuel companies and climate-related disclosures.

California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, U.S. Virgin Islands, Vermont, Virginia, Washington
2016-05-17 Criminal Investigation of the Refugio Oil Spill Natural Resources, Water Pollution Criminal Case

Indictment of Plains All American Pipeline on Criminal Charges Resulting from the Refugio Oil Spill

California
2016-04-29 American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers v. O’Keeffe Climate Change Mitigation Defense of State Rule

Oregon, California, and Washington joined in defense of Oregon’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard.

California, Oregon, Washington
2016-04-26 Opposition to St. Clair River Pipelines Energy, Natural Resources Administrative Proceeding

Michigan AG submitted letter to Secretary of State John Kerry urging him to deny the permit application for the St. Clair River oil pipelines.

Michigan
2016-04-04 Settlement, Deepwater Horizon Lawsuit Natural Resources, Water Pollution Lawsuit vs. Private Actors

Multi-state consent degree settling civil claims between gulf states and BP for civil penalties and damages to natural resources.

Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas
2016-03-11 Hanford Site Nuclear Waste Clean-Up Solid & Hazardous Waste Lawsuit vs. Federal Government

Oregon and Washington AGs filed multiple lawsuits against the Department of Energy (DOE) concerning the cleanup and processing of nuclear waste stored in Hanford, Washington.

Oregon, Washington
2015-12-04 New York ExxonMobil Investigation Disclosures, Energy Lawsuit vs. Private Actors, Other

Investigation into whether ExxonMobil’s activities in the climate science sphere constitutes a violation of New York’s Martin Act, which prohibits publicly traded companies from misleading investors.

New York
2015-12-01 Ventura County and State of California v. Santa Clara Waste Water Solid & Hazardous Waste Criminal Case

Joint prosecution between the State of California and the County of Ventura against Santa Clara Waste Water, its parent company, and individual employees for criminal violations stemming from hazardous waste disposal.

California
2015-11-20 Comments on Tennessee Pipeline Gas Go. Northeast Energy Direct Project Climate Change Mitigation, Energy, Environmental Assessment Administrative Proceeding

Massachusetts AG submitted comments to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and a study opposing a proposed natural gas pipeline that would have run through New England.

Massachusetts
2015-11-03 West Virginia v. EPA Climate Change Mitigation Defense of Federal Standards

Multi-state intervention to join EPA’s defense of Clean Power Plan against challenge mounted by other states and industry petitioners.

California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington
2015-10-23 North Dakota v. EPA (Power Plants) Climate Change Mitigation Defense of Federal Standards

Multiple states joined as defendant-intervenors in support of EPA in lawsuit challenging New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for carbon dioxide emissions from new and modified power plants.

California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington
2015-09-03 Michigan Petroleum Pipeline Task Force Energy, Natural Resources Other

Michigan AG convened the Michigan Petroleum Pipeline Task Force to investigate the safety of the Straits pipelines.

Michigan
2015-09-02 Washington v. Perry Pesticides & Toxics Lawsuit vs. Federal Government

Washington filed a citizen suit under RCRA alleging that worker exposure to chemical vapors at decommissioned nuclear production site constituted an “imminent and substantial endangerment to human health and the environment.”

Washington
2015-08-28 Murray Energy Corp. v. EPA Water Pollution Defense of Federal Standards

Multiple sates intervened to support EPA’s defense of the Waters of the U.S. rule.

Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington
2015-08-05 Tennessee v. Chevron Natural Resources Lawsuit vs. Private Actors

Tennessee AG filed suit against Chevron alleging that the company illegally used taxpayer funds to pay for spill clean up costs.

Tennessee
2015-06-29 Michigan v. EPA Air Pollution Defense of Federal Standards

Multiple states intervened in lawsuit to defend EPA standards regulating mercury and other air pollutants from the power sector.

California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont
2015-05-19 Kalamazoo River Oil Spill Energy, Natural Resources, Water Pollution Lawsuit vs. Private Actors

Michigan AG pursued enforcement action against Enbridge Energy in response to their actions which caused over 1 million gallons of heavy crude oil to spill into the Kalamazoo River.

Michigan
2015-01-07 Tennessee Dept. of Envt. & Conservation v. TVA Solid & Hazardous Waste, Water Pollution Lawsuit vs. Federal Government

Tennessee attorney general filed lawsuit against TVA alleging that a power plant was contaminating water sources.

Tennessee
2014-12-03 Coal and Coke Regulations, House Bill 5939 Air Pollution, Energy Legislative Input

Illinois AG co-authored legislative proposal to regulate bulk materials storage facilities that handle petroleum coke and other refinery production materials in response to air pollution violations linked to several facilities on Chicago’s southeast side.

Illinois
2014-10-20 Detroit Waste Incineration Facility Air Pollution Abatement Air Pollution, Environmental Justice Lawsuit vs. Private Actors

Michigan AG brought enforcement action against waste management companies to reduce foul odor emanating from the United States’ largest waste incineration facility.

Michigan
2014-07-14 Michigan v. USACE Natural Resources Lawsuit v. Other Public Entity, Lawsuit vs. Federal Government

Multi-state lawsuit to compel the United States Army Corps of Engineers and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago to take action to prevent Asian carp from crossing from the Mississippi River Basin into the Great Lakes.

Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin
2014-06-23 Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA Climate Change Mitigation Defense of Federal Standards

Multiple states intervened in lawsuit to defend EPA rules concerning regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from stationary and mobile sources.

California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington
2014-04-29 EPA v. EME Homer City Generation Air Pollution Defense of Federal Standards

Multiple states intervened in lawsuit to support EPA rule on cross-state air pollution against state and industry challenge.

Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont
2014-04-24 American Public Gas Assoc. v. Department of Energy Energy Amicus Brief, Defense of Federal Standards

Multi-state intervention in support of Energy Department proposed rule setting efficiency standards for residential gas furnaces.

California, Massachusetts, New York
2014-04-01 Illinois Coal Mine Permitting Process Reforms Energy, Natural Resources Lawsuit v. Other Public Entity

Illinois AG sued and entered into settlement with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR) requiring DNR to improve transparency and public participation in the coal permitting process.

Illinois
2013-10-09 New York State v. McCarthy (2013) Air Pollution Lawsuit vs. Federal Government

Multi-state suit to compel EPA to review and revise New Source Performance Standards for wood burning devices.

Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont
2013-08-13 In re Aiken County Energy, Solid & Hazardous Waste Lawsuit vs. Federal Government

Washington and South Carolina AGs pursued mandamus action to force the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to proceed with the licensing process of Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste repository.

South Carolina, Washington
2013-08-08 Agreement for DOE to Update Energy Efficiency Standards Climate Change Mitigation, Energy Administrative Proceeding

Multi-state coalition reached agreement with U.S Department of Energy establishing timetable for updating federal efficiency standards for energy-intensive consumer products.

Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington
2013-06-13 American Trucking Associations, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles Air Pollution Defense of Local Action

California AG filed an amicus brief in a case involving the Port of Los Angeles “Clean Trucks Program,” which was designed to improve diesel emissions and air quality.

California
2013-06-06 Miami-Dade County Clean Water Act Settlement Water Pollution Lawsuit v. Other Public Entity

Florida AG and U.S. government reached settlement with County of Miami-Dade regarding violations of federal and state water pollution laws at three wastewater treatment plants.

Florida
2013-04-08 People of the State of California v. Endo Plastics, LLC Greenwashing Lawsuit vs. Private Actors

California AG brought a lawsuit against three plastic water bottle companies for misleading claims of biodegradability. This was the first “greenwashing” suit of its kind.

California
2013-02-25 Massachusetts v. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Energy Administrative Proceeding, Lawsuit vs. Federal Government

Massachusetts AG filed an administrative appeal filed by a lawsuit challenging the adequacy of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s consideration of the environmental consequences of renewing the license for the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant.

Massachusetts
2013-02-14 Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice v. County of Riverside Air Pollution, Environmental Assessment, Environmental Justice Lawsuit v. Other Public Entity

California AG intervened in and helped to settle litigation surrounding an industrial project that was expected to increase diesel truck traffic in a predominantly Latino residential area.

California
2013-01-13 NRDC v. Abraham Energy Lawsuit vs. Federal Government

States joined NRDC lawsuit challenging the DOE’s attempt to lower energy efficiency standards for certain appliances under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (ECPA).

California, Connecticut, Maine, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Vermont
2012-12-11 Request for Performance Standards and Guidelines for Methane Sources Climate Change Mitigation Regulatory petition

Multi-state request for EPA to issue methane standards under the Clean Air Act.

Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont
2012-06-08 New York v. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Energy, Environmental Assessment, Solid & Hazardous Waste Lawsuit vs. Federal Government

Multi-state challenge to a Nuclear Regulatory Commission rule on storage of spent nuclear fuel, resulting in a decision that the rule was a major federal action that requires the agency to either make a finding that the action would have no significant environmental action or issue an environmental impact statement.

Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Vermont
2012-06-02 New York v. Jackson Air Pollution Lawsuit vs. Federal Government

Multi-state lawsuit to force EPA to comply with Clean Air Act requirement to update and revise National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) every five years.

California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington
2012-01-25 Cleveland National Forest Foundation v. San Diego Association of Governments Climate Change Mitigation, Environmental Assessment Lawsuit v. Other Public Entity

California AG intervened in a suit attempting to require the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) Regional Transportation Plan to consider climate change in its long term planning decisions.

California
2011-06-20 American Electric Power v. Connecticut Climate Change Mitigation Lawsuit vs. Private Actors

Federal common law nuisance claim against five major electric power companies for their contribution to climate change through greenhouse gas emissions.

California, Connecticut, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, NYC, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wisconsin
2011-01-13 New Jersey, Dept. of Environmental Protection v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Environmental Assessment Lawsuit vs. Federal Government

New Jersey and environmental groups sued the Army Corp. for not supplementing their EIS after an oil spill in the Delaware River.

New Jersey
2010-12-15 California Resource Agency v. United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources, Wildlife Lawsuit vs. Federal Government

California sued the U.S. Forest Service for its plan to allow road development through certain wilderness areas in California, including habitats for endangered species. The parties reached a settlement in 2010.

California
2010-12-03 Golden Gate Audubon Society v. NextEra Wind Energy, Wildlife Other

After years of litigation and settlement attempts between environmental and wind turbine industry groups, the California AG’s office stepped in and brokered a settlement to protect migratory birds.

California
2010-11-23 Delaware Dept. of Natural Resources and Environmental Control v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Environmental Assessment, Water Pollution Lawsuit vs. Federal Government

Delaware and New Jersey brought action pursuant to the APA to challenge a decision made by the US Army Corp of Engineers to proceed with a dredging project to deepen the main navigation channel of the Delaware River without obtaining requisite approval pursuant to the CWA, CAA, CZMA, and Delaware code.

Delaware, New Jersey
2010-06-07 Coalition for Responsible Regulation v. EPA (2010) Climate Change Mitigation Defense of Federal Standards

Multiple states moved to intervene in litigation concerning the 2012–2016 light duty motor vehicle emissions standards.

California, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington
2009-06-25 Defense of California Feed-in-Tariff Program Climate Change Mitigation, Energy Administrative Proceeding, Defense of State Rule

California AG filed brief with the California Public Utility Commission defending the state’s authority to use feed-in tariffs.

California
2009-02-24 American Farm Bureau Federation v. EPA Air Pollution Lawsuit vs. Federal Government

Multi-state lawsuit challenging the adequacy of EPA’s 2006 revision to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) regulating soot pollution under the Clean Air Act.

Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont
2009-02-08 New Jersey v. EPA Air Pollution Lawsuit vs. Federal Government

Multi-state challenge to EPA decision to remove fossil fuel-fired power plants from list of sources regulated under CAA section 112 (hazardous air pollutants) and to establish new performance standards for mercury emissions from these plants under CAA section 111.

California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wisconsin
2008-08-25 New York v. EPA Climate Change Mitigation Lawsuit vs. Federal Government

Multi-state action against EPA for failure to set NSPS standards for oil refineries.

California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington
2007-12-11 Central Valley Chrysler-Jeep, Inc. v. Goldstene Climate Change Mitigation Defense of State Rule

State AGs intervened in lawsuit to defend California’s greenhouse gas emission standards for motor vehicles against challenge alleging that the standards are preempted by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA).

California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington
2007-08-28 California v. County of San Bernardino Climate Change Mitigation, Environmental Assessment Lawsuit v. Other Public Entity

The State of California entered into a landmark climate change settlement with San Bernardino County setting forth a specific greenhouse gas reduction plan.

California
2007-04-02 Massachusetts v. EPA Climate Change Mitigation Lawsuit vs. Federal Government

Multi-state challenge to EPA denial of petition to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles under Clean Air Act.

California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington
2007-02-15 New York v. American Electric Power Service Corp. Air Pollution Lawsuit vs. Private Actors

Multi-state litigation under Clean Air Act alleging violations of New Source Review permitting process to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions in coal-fired power plants.

Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont
2006-07-03 Pakootas v. Teck Cominco Metals, Ltd. Natural Resources, Solid & Hazardous Waste, Water Pollution Amicus Brief, Lawsuit vs. Private Actors

Washington State intervened and multiple states submitted Amicus Briefs in lawsuit filed by Native American tribe against Canadian smelting company for polluting the Columbia River and Lake Roosevelt.

Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington
2006-03-17 New York v. EPA Air Pollution Lawsuit vs. Federal Government

Multi-state challenge to 2002 EPA rule amending and expanding the routine maintenance, repair and replacement exceptions to the New Source Review program.

California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wisconsin
2005-12-06 New York v. Bodman Energy Lawsuit vs. Federal Government

Multi-state lawsuit challenging the Department of Energy (DOE)’s failure to create energy efficiency standards for consumer appliances according to the timeline established by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (ECPA).

California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wisconsin
2005 New York v. EPA Air Pollution Lawsuit vs. Federal Government

Multi-state challenge to 2002 EPA rule amending the New Source Review (NSR) program and narrowing the definition of “modification” to exclude certain sources from NSR requirements.

California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wisconsin

Please note that this database is still under development. You can contact Jessica Wentz [jaw2186@columbia.edu] with any recommended additions to the database.

We would like to thank the following Columbia students for their contribution to this project: Dane Warren, Liam Hancock, Lee Rarick, Eddy Brandt, Zach Piaker, Alexander Peerman, Charlotte Collins, Catalina Villegas, Maia Hutt, and Allison Villegas Roman.