- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for AG's Office Report: Over 200 Legal Actions Taken to Fight Trump Administration’s Unlawful Attacks on the Environment
BOSTON — Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey today released a report on her office’s four-year-long fight against the Trump Administration’s illegal and dangerous rollbacks of critical environmental protections. The report highlights more than 200 actions the AG’s Office has taken, often in collaboration with other state attorneys general, to fight these rollbacks, and it identifies the numerous victories the office has won over the federal government.
“Over the last four years, the Trump Administration has pursued a sweeping and corrupt agenda to roll back and undermine critical environmental protections for the benefit of Donald Trump’s corporate polluter friends,” said AG Healey. “We have fought these unlawful attacks at every turn, and we are winning. The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have only strengthened our resolve to continue this important work, and I’m proud of my environmental team and their efforts to protect the people of Massachusetts.”
The report—“Fighting for a Healthy Massachusetts: Stopping Illegal Federal Environmental Attacks & Rollbacks”—details the importance of environmental law in protecting Massachusetts residents and our natural resources, lays out the legal tools that the AG’s Office has been using to protect the people of Massachusetts, and highlights key ongoing cases and victories.
For four years, the Trump administration has been attacking bedrock environmental laws that limit pollution that crosses state borders and protect natural resources in Massachusetts and beyond. These laws consider how government decisions impact human health and the environment in Massachusetts. According to a recent study by the Rhodium Group, the Trump Administration’s rollback of a few key federal regulations limiting greenhouse gas emissions would result in at least an additional 1.8 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases over the next 15 years, exacerbating the climate crisis, which is increasingly threatening Massachusetts with extreme weather and costly sea-level rise.
Protecting public health by ensuring compliance with longstanding environmental laws has never been more important. In April, researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health issued a study linking long-term exposure to fine particulate matter in the air with increased COVID-19 death rates, underscoring the importance of continued enforcement of existing air pollution regulations to protect human health during and after the COVID-19 crisis. In her May 2020 brief on the environmental factors that compound the COVID-19 pandemic’s disparate impact on environmental justice communities in Massachusetts, AG Healey identified halting harmful rollbacks of federal environmental protections as an important step to address the longstanding impact of environmental injustice on the state’s families.
The report highlights the AG’s Office’s 200-plus actions on numerous environmental issues of crucial importance to Massachusetts, including:
- Combatting Climate Change: Dating to its historic victory before the Supreme Court in Massachusetts v. EPA, the AG’s Office has been a national leader in pushing for strong federal action on climate change and preserving past progress on the issue. Our actions have targeted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rollbacks of vital climate rules limiting methane leaks from oil and gas facilities, hydrofluorocarbon use, tailpipe pollution from cars and trucks, and carbon pollution from power plants.
- Controlling Dangerous Air Pollution: The AG’s Office has challenged illegal rollbacks of clean air protections, including national standards and regulations limiting soot, mercury, and ozone pollution. These rollbacks are putting the health of Massachusetts residents at greater risk of illness and premature death from diseases like asthma, other respiratory ailments, and heart disease.
- Protecting Clean Water and Wetlands: Massachusetts has fought illegal rollbacks of water quality protections and unlawful power grabs by the Trump Administration to limit state authority to protect waterways and wetlands, which are all for the benefit of the fossil fuel industry and other polluters. In a recent case, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with a brief filed by the AG’s Office arguing for a strong reading of the federal Clean Water Act that will allow vigorous enforcement actions against polluters of our waterways.
- Safeguarding Communities from Toxic Chemicals: Massachusetts has sued to challenge delays and rollbacks of safety standards for facilities that handle or house extremely dangerous chemicals—which are more likely to be in low-income communities of color. The AG’s Office has taken major actions to fight EPA efforts that would avoid or gut regulation of toxic pesticides like chlorpyrifos and neonicotinoids as well as asbestos, PFAS, mercury, and other dangerous chemicals.
- Protecting Wildlife: The AG’s Office has been a leader in fighting the Trump Administration’s attempts to weaken the Endangered Species Act and open the Atlantic Ocean and millions of acres of federal lands to oil and gas drilling. And when a U.S. Department of the Interior policy paved the way for the deaths of millions of birds, the AG’s Office filed suit in federal court, and won.
- Advancing Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency: In 2017, Massachusetts successfully fought a Trump Administration plan to subsidize old and polluting power plants. And when the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has attempted to roll back common-sense energy efficiency standards for appliances, lightbulbs, and industrial equipment, the AG’s Office has sued DOE in federal courts.
The work highlighted in the report is handled by AG Healey’s Environmental Protection Division, with assistance from her Energy and Telecommunications Division on cases implicating clean energy and energy efficiency. Many of the actions in the report are collaborative efforts with other state attorneys general, local governments, and public health and environmental organizations, and benefitted from support from Massachusetts state agencies including the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, the Department of Environmental Protection, and the Department of Fish and Game.