Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Federal Litigation Summary

Last updated: 9/10/21

Total cases against the federal government since January 2017 99
Total cases led by Washington State Attorney General's Office 36
Total cases led by other state attorneys general 63

 

Legal Victories - Completed 28
Legal Victories - Appealed or could be Appealed 14
Cases Lost - Appealed or could be Appealed 0
Cases Lost - Completed 2

 

Amicus or "friend of the court" briefs authored or joined by Washington state in cases against the federal government can be found here.

Relevant Documents:

Letter to Sen. Schoesler detailing the cost to taxpayers related to this litigation.

Legal record of the Texas attorneys general against the Obama administration (49 Cases Filed, 7 Cases Won, 12 Cases Lost) 

 

Legal Victories - Completed 

Washington V. Trump
Subject: Original travel ban
Date Filed: 1/30/2017
Leading State(s): Washington
Joining States: Minnesota, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, and Oregon

Overview

The travel ban separated families, divided employers from employees, and prohibited students and professors from resuming studies in the United States. In addition, many individuals lawfully in Washington state were denied the right to visit family members abroad, or travel for business. When Washington challenged the constitutionality and legality of the travel ban in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington on January 30, 2017, individuals with green cards and valid visas were subject to the travel ban and being turned away at airports.

Washington’s complaint included dozens of declarations from Washington businesses, colleges and universities, and national security experts.

Judge James Robart, appointed by President George W. Bush, ruled in Washington’s favor on February 3, 2017, granting a nationwide temporary restraining order. On February 9, in a unanimous opinion, a panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the injunction.

FINAL RESOLUTION: The Trump Administration chose not to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, rescinded the executive order, and agreed to reimburse Washington’s costs related to the appeal.

 

New York v. Perry
Subject: Energy efficiency standards
Date Filed: 3/31/17
Leading State(s): New  York
Joining States: Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and District of Columbia

Overview

On March 31, 2017, the Washington state Attorney General’s Office and a multistate coalition of attorneys general sought review from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on the administration’s unlawful delay in implementing new energy efficiency rules for ceiling fans.

The energy efficiency rules are estimated to reduce electrical consumption by about 200 billion kilowatt hours over the next three decades, saving consumers anywhere from $4.5 billion to $12.1 billion in energy costs.

FINAL RESOLUTION:  After the states filed the lawsuit, the U.S. Department of Energy conceded and announced that the rules would go into effect.

 

Clean Air Council, et al. v. EPA
Subject: New oil & gas facilities
Date Filed: 6/20/17
Leading State(s): California and Massachusetts
Joining States: Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and District of Columbia

Overview

On June 20, 2017, state attorneys general intervened in a lawsuit against the EPA challenging delays in implementing a rule regulating emissions from new oil and gas facilities. The rule provides important protections for Washington’s residents against the release of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that has more than 80 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. The effects of methane cannot be reversed or undone.

On July 3, the D.C. Circuit ruled in favor of Washington state, finding that the EPA had violated the Clean Air Act. Industry intervenors sought en banc review.

FINAL RESOLUTION: On August 10, 2017, with an 8-3 decision, the D.C. Circuit Court denied en banc review. 

 

New York v. EPA
Subject: Ground-level ozone standards
Date Filed: 8/1/17
Leading State(s): New York
Joining States: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and District of Columbia 

Overview

On August 1, 2017, 15 states, including Washington, filed suit against the EPA in the D.C. Circuit after Administrator Pruitt announced his decision to delay designating which areas of the country met the new ground-level ozone standards.

FINAL RESOLUTION: The next day, Administrator Pruitt reversed course and withdrew the decision to delay. 

 

California, et al. v. U.S. Department of Transportation
Subject: Vehicle emissions rule
Date Filed: 9/20/17
Leading State(s): California
Joining States: Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington

Overview

On September 20, 2017, Washington and eight other states filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California after the Federal Highway Administration unlawfully suspended the effective date of an important rule aimed at reducing greenhouse gases without notice or opportunity for comment. The rule requires states to measure the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by on-road vehicles on the national highway system and to set targets for reducing those emissions.

FINAL RESOLUTION: The Federal Highway Administration has since conceded and announced the rules would immediately go into effect pending a procedurally valid repeal.

 

California v. Pruitt
Subject: Ground-level ozone
Date Filed: 12/5/17
Leading State(s): California
Joining States: New York, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and District of Columbia

Overview

On December 5, 2017, Washington and 14 other states filed a lawsuit accusing the Environmental Protection Agency of violating the Clean Air Act by delaying air quality standards for ground-level ozone pollution. After Washington and 15 other states filed a lawsuit in July 2017, the EPA withdrew its decision to delay the deadline for designating which areas around the country did and did not comply with new standards. However, the EPA failed to meet the October 1, 2017, deadline for the designations.

FINAL RESOLUTION: On March 12, 2018, U.S. District Court Judge Haywood S. Gilliam Jr. granted summary judgment in favor of the states, ruling that the EPA violated the Clean Air Act and ordering the agency to adopt the designations by no later April 30, 2018. The EPA complied with the order on April 30.

 

California, et al. v. EPA
Subject: Glider trucks
Date Filed: 7/19/18
Leading State(s): California
Joining States: Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and District of Columbia 

Overview

On July 19, 2018, Washington and 16 other attorneys general filed a petition for review with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit challenging an Environmental Protection Agency action that effectively suspends strict limits on “glider” trucks — new heavy-duty trucks manufactured with highly polluting, refurbished engines that do not comply with modern emissions standards. The action, taken by outgoing EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt on his last day with the agency, allows manufacturers to put thousands more of the high-polluting trucks on the road before any formal process to modify or repeal the strict limits, instituted in 2016, is completed.

FINAL RESOLUTION: On July 26, 2018, EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler issued a memo withdrawing the guidance suspending the limits on glider trucks.

 

Massachusetts, et al. v. Devos
Subject: Borrower Defense to Repayment Rule
Date Filed: 7/6/17
Leading State(s): Massachusetts
Joining States: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and District of Columbia

Overview

On July 6, 2017, Washington joined 18 other attorneys general to file a lawsuit in the D.C. District against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. The lawsuit followed DeVos’ announcement that the Department of Education was delaying indefinitely the implementation of the “borrower defense regulations,” which were set to go into effect on July 1, 2017. The borrower defense regulations provide important consumer protections for prospective, current, and former students of for-profit colleges. For example, under the rules, a state attorney general’s successful litigation against a school for violating consumer protection laws can make its students automatically eligible for student loan forgiveness.

The states’ case was consolidated with a similar challenge, Bauer v. DeVos.

FINAL RESOLUTION: On Sept. 12, U.S. District Court Judge Randolph D. Moss granted the motion for summary judgment of Washington and the other Plaintiff States and ruled the Department of Education improperly delayed implementation of the rules. The rules went into effect on Oct. 16.

 

Washington v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)
Subject: Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
Date Filed: 1/31/18
Leading State(s): Washington
Joining States:  

Overview

On January 31, 2018, Washington filed a lawsuit claiming that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission failed to respond to the Attorney General’s Office’s Freedom of Information Act request, seeking communications among FERC commissioners. The state’s November 2017 FOIA request asked for emails and other written communications during a tumultuous time at FERC, including periods in which the Commission failed to have a quorum, failed to hold any public meetings, and considered a proposal from the Department of Energy that would have upended the energy markets. 

FINAL RESOLUTION: As a result of Washington's lawsuit, FERC has provided hundreds of pages of documents and paid the Attorney General's costs and fees, resolving the case as of Nov. 13, 2018.

 

New York v. Pruitt
Subject: Chemical Disaster Rule
Date Filed: 7/24/17
Leading State(s): New York
Joining States: Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington

Overview

On July 24, 2017, Washington and 10 other states filed a petition for review with the D.C. Circuit over the Trump Administration’s unlawful delay of the Chemical Disaster Rule. The 2010 Tesoro refinery explosion in Anacortes and other high-profile accidents across the nation prompted the Chemical Disaster Rule. On Aug. 18, 2018, a panel with the D.C. Circuit ruled that the Trump Administration’s delay of the Chemical Disaster Rule violated the Clean Air Act.

FINAL RESOLUTION: The Administration decided not to appeal the ruling.

 

Oceana v. Ross
Subject: Drift Gillnet Rule
Date Filed: July 12, 2017
Leading State(s): Washington
Joining States:  

Overview

On April 1, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit granted Washington’s motion to intervene in a case accusing the U.S. Department of Commerce and the National Marine Fisheries Service of violating the Magnuson-Stevens Act by refusing to publish a final regulation designed to address the “bycatch” of endangered and threatened marine species by the gillnet fishery. After a multi-year public process, the Pacific Fishery Management Council proposed the new rules, which the National Marine Fisheries Service initially endorsed. After public comments, the National Marine Fisheries Service reversed its endorsement, and refused to publish the final regulations. Oceana, an environmental advocacy organization, sued over the reversal.

On Oct. 24, 2018, U.S. District Court Judge R. Gary Klausner granted Oceana’s motion for summary judgment, agreeing that the Administration’s reversal violated the Administrative Procedure Act and the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The federal government appealed the decision to the Ninth Circuit. Washington filed a motion to intervene in the case on Jan. 23, 2019.

FINAL RESOLUTION: On April 15, 2019, the Administration filed a voluntary motion to dismiss its appeal of the District Court ruling, allowing the District Court's ruling to stand.

 

State of Washington v. Environmental Protection Agency, et al.
Subject: Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
Date Filed: 5/3/18
Leading State(s): Washington
Joining States:  

Overview

On May 3, 2018, Washington filed a lawsuit claiming the Environmental Protection Agency failed to respond to the Attorney General’s Office’s Freedom of Information Act request, seeking communications from the EPA to advisory committee members regarding the EPA's new policy barring scientists who receive EPA grants from serving on advisory committees. As a result of the lawsuit, the EPA provided more than 1,700 pages of documents not previously made public.

FINAL RESOLUTION: On May 10, 2019, the EPA agreed to pay Washington state $6,000 in attorney costs and fees to resolve the case.

 

New York et al. v. U.S. Department of Commerce
Subject: Citizenship question on 2020 Census
Date Filed: 4/3/18
Leading State(s): New York
Joining States: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and District of Columbia; Cities of Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Providence, and Seattle; City and County of San Francisco; and the United States Conference of Mayors

Overview

On April 3, 2018, Washington, 16 other states and the District of Columbia, in addition to six cities and San Francisco County, filed a lawsuit to block the addition of a question regarding U.S. citizenship to the 2020 Census. The lawsuit argues that, according to the Census Bureau’s own research, adding such a question will depress participation in the Census, potentially resulting in an undercount that will adversely impact congressional representation and jeopardize some of the billions of dollars in federal funding allocated based on Census data. 

On Jan. 15, 2019, U.S. District Court Judge Jesse M. Furman barred the Census Bureau from adding the citizenship question to the 2020 Census. On June 27, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed in part Judge Firman's decision, and remanded the case back to the district court, agreeing that the evidence does not match the Secretary of Commerce’s explanation for the decision to add the question to the Census.

FINAL RESOLUTION: On July 16, 2019, Judge Furman issued a permanent injunction barring the administration from adding the citizenship question to the 2020 Census.

 

Massachusetts, et al. v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, et al.
Subject: FOIA request regarding immigration enforcement
Date Filed: 10/17/17
Leading State(s): Massachusetts
Joining States: California, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Washington and District of Columbia

Overview

On October 17, 2017, Washington joined nine Attorneys General in a lawsuit accusing the Trump Administration of failing to comply with a Freedom of Information Act request regarding information on federal immigration enforcement. Nearly four months earlier, the Attorneys General requested the information from U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services and U.S. Customs & Border Protection, all agencies within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The AGs filed suit after the agencies failed to disclose the information. 

FINAL RESOLUTION: As a result of the states' lawsuit, the Administration has produced thousands of pages of documents not previously disclosed, resolving the case as of Oct. 2, 2019.

 

California, et al. v. Perry
Subject: Energy efficiency standards for appliances
Date Filed: 6/13/17
Leading State(s): California
Joining States: New York, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington, and City of New York

Overview

On June 13, 2017, Washington and 10 other states filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California over the Trump Administration’s unlawful delay of new energy efficiency standards for walk-in coolers and freezers, portable air conditioners, and other appliances. The standards will save consumers at least $4.7 billion in energy costs.

On Feb. 15, 2018, U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria granted the states' motion for summary judgment, and ordered the administration to publish the new standards within the next 28 days. The administration appealed the ruling to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. On Oct. 10, 2019, a panel with the 9th Circuit upheld Judge Chhabria's decision, ruling that the Department of Energy acted contrary to its own rules by refusing to finalize the standards.

FINAL RESOLUTION: In December 2019, the Department of Energy acted to publish the rules.

 

League of United Latin American Citizens, et al. v. Wheeler
Subject: Pesticides
Date Filed: 6/6/17
Leading State(s): New York
Joining States: Maryland, Vermont, Washington, Massachusetts, California, Hawaii, and District of Columbia

Overview

On June 6, 2017, Washington, six other states, and the District of Columbia filed a motion in the Ninth Circuit to intervene in this case, in order to ensure that the EPA completes its review of the neurotoxic pesticide chlorpyrifos to protect farmworkers and those living in agricultural communities. The motion to intervene in the case was granted in December 2017. Two months later, two additional states joined the lawsuit.

On August 8, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit vacated the EPA’s decision to allow continued use of chlorpyrifos, and ordered the EPA to revoke all uses on food within 60 days. The EPA petitioned for en banc review on Sept. 25. On April 19, 2019, the Ninth Circuit en banc panel ordered the EPA to make a final decision on the plaintiffs' objections within 90 days.

FINAL RESOLUTION: After the EPA denied the states' objections, the states filed a separate petition challenging the EPA's denial of their objections.

 

Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, et al v. U.S. Navy
Subject: Naval vessel scraping
Date Filed: 6/15/17
Leading State(s): Washington
Joining States:  

Overview

On April 23, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington granted Washington’s motion to intervene in a case challenging the U.S. Navy’s practice of scraping the hulls of decommissioned vessels in a way that releases metals and other contaminants into Sinclair Inlet. This contamination can harm marine life up and down the food chain, including salmon and orcas.

In June 2017, Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, the Washington Environmental Council and the Suquamish Tribe filed the lawsuit against the Navy, which asserts that the military branch violated the federal Clean Water Act by releasing toxic substances into the inlet without a permit. The lawsuit follows the Navy’s January 2017 efforts to blast marine debris off the hull of a 60,000-ton, decommissioned aircraft carrier before transport and scrapping. In doing so, the Navy released approximately 50 dump truck loads of solid materials into Puget Sound, including metals highly toxic to marine life. 

FINAL RESOLUTION: On Jan. 29, 2020, the Navy agreed to a legally enforceable agreement requiring it to stop in-water scraping for 10 years. During the 10-year moratorium, the Navy must clean inactive ships that require scraping in a dry dock, out of the water, to prevent releasing materials directly into Puget Sound. In addition to the moratorium, the Navy must prevent additional environmental damage caused by the scraping of the ex-Independence by placing a layer of clean sediment on the impacted portions of Sinclair Inlet. The Navy must also reimburse the fees incurred by the Attorney General’s Office and other plaintiffs.

 

New York, et al. v. Federal Communications Commission
Subject: Net neutrality
Date Filed: 2/22/18
Leading State(s): New York
Joining States: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and District of Columbia

Overview

On Feb. 22, 2018, Washington, 21 other states and the District of Columbia sought review of the Federal Communications Commission’s Restoring Internet Freedom Declaratory Ruling, Report and Order. The states contend the FCC's decision to repeal Obama-era “net neutrality” rules violates the U.S. Constitution, the Administrative Procedure Act and the Communications Act of 1934. The states also seek to vacate the portion of the FCC's order preempting state and local regulation of broadband service. 

On Oct. 1, 2019, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that while the FCC could repeal national “net-neutrality” rules, the FCC’s attempt to preempt state and local regulation of broadband services was invalid. The court’s decision allows Washington’s first-in-the-nation open internet law under the state Consumer Protection Act to remain in effect. Attorneys with the State of Washington primarily worked on the arguments against state preemption in the case.

FINAL RESOLUTION: The federal government declined to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

 

New York, et al. v. Trump
Subject: DACA
Date Filed: 9/6/17
Leading State(s): Washington, New York, Massachusetts
Joining States: Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and District of Columbia

Overview

On September 6, 2017, Washington and 16 other states filed a lawsuit in the Eastern District of New York seeking to halt President Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The president’s decision ends protections for 17,000 Dreamers in Washington state alone. Dreamers were brought to this country as children through no fault of their own. They are attending our universities, working for our state agencies and local governments, and contributing to our economy. In addition to seeking a halt to the president’s decision to end DACA, this lawsuit seeks to prevent the federal government from misusing personal information Dreamers provided the government in good faith in order to sign up for DACA after being promised that information would not be used to deport them or their families.

On February 13, 2018, U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas Garaufis granted the states' request for a preliminary injunction, blocking President Donald Trump's effort to end the DACA program. On March 29,2018, Judge Garaufis ruled that the states' constitutional challenge to Trump's decision can go forward. The injunction enjoins the cancellation of DACA for current recipients and requires the Department of Homeland Security to accept and process renewal applications for current DACA grantees. The injunction protects nearly 18,000 Washingtonians who are DACA grantees and, as a result, can work and go to school in our State. The federal government appealed the preliminary injunction, along with the trial court’s orders denying the government’s motions to dismiss the case. The appeals of the three district court orders (two orders on motions to dismiss and the preliminary injunction order) have been consolidated before Second Circuit. Oral argument was heard on Jan. 25, 2019. On June 28, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review all three cases where an injunction was granted.

FINAL RESOLUTION: On June 18, 2020, in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court rejected President Donald Trump’s effort to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. 

 

Washington v. Department of Homeland Security, et al.
Subject: International student visa rule
Date Filed: 7/10/20
Leading State(s): Washington
Joining States:  

Overview

On July 10, 2020, the Washington Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington challenging the Trump Administration’s visa rule for international students, which revokes student visas for international students attending colleges and universities that are holding classes remotely during the pandemic. Visa holders attending colleges and universities that will offer some in-person classes will lose their visas and other visa-related privileges if they attend classes remotely from their home countries — despite the public health risks of unnecessary travel, and regardless of students’ individual health risks. The rule requires every college and university to decide by July 15 whether they will hold their classes remotely, and imposes other arbitrarily short and onerous deadlines. ​

On July 14, 2020, four days after Washington filed its lawsuit, the administration announced it would rescind its new visa rule for international students after multiple federal lawsuits challenging the rule.

FINAL RESOLUTION: At a hearing for Washington’s case the next day, the federal government confirmed on the record that the policy had been rescinded.

 

New York v. Pruitt
Subject: Hydrofluorocarbons
Date Filed: 6/27/18
Leading State(s): New York
Joining States: California, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and District of Columbia, and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

Overview

On June 27, 2018, Washington and 10 other Attorneys General filed a lawsuit accusing the Environmental Protection Agency of violating the Clean Air Act by improperly reversing a rule that prohibited the use of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, in response to a narrow DC Circuit ruling. HFCs are a powerful type of greenhouse gas used in air conditioning, refrigeration, aerosols and fire retardants. Their global warming potential is 300 to 1,000 times greater than carbon dioxide.

FINAL RESOLUTION: On April 7, 2020, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit struck down the EPA’s attempt to reverse the greenhouse gas restrictions.

 

Washington v. DeVos et al.
Subject: CARES Act elementary & secondary school relief funds
Date Filed: 7/20/2020
Leading State(s): Washington
Joining States:  

Overview

 

On July 20, 2020, the Washington Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington challenging an unlawful U.S. Department of Education rule that will deprive Washington’s public elementary and secondary schools from receiving emergency relief funds. Congress included the emergency funds for schools in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Security (CARES) Act. Instead of distributing the CARES Act emergency relief as Congress intended, the department’s rule forces school districts to make a difficult choice before they can access the money. Districts must either substantially limit which of their public schools can access the funds, or base their calculations on total student population without considering the number of low-income students, reallocating a significant amount of funds to private schools regardless of student need.

On July 23, 2020, Washington filed motion for a preliminary injunction, asking the court to block the department's rule from being implemented or enforced. On Aug. 21, 2020, Judge Barbara J. Rothstein granted Washington's motion for a preliminary injunction, blocking the department's rule.

FINAL RESOLUTION: After Washington's order and others, including a judge in Washington D.C. who vacated the entire rule, on Sept. 25, 2020, Secretary Betsy DeVos announced that the department would not appeal the rulings.

 

Washington et al. v. Trump et al.
Subject: Postal Service changes
Date Filed: 8/18/2020
Leading State(s): Washington
Joining States: Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin

Overview

On Aug. 18, 2020, Washington led a coalition of 14 states challenging drastic operational changes at the U.S. Postal Service that threaten critical mail delivery and could undermine the national election in November. The Postal Service cuts, including eliminating staff overtime, halting outgoing mail processing at state distribution centers and removing critical mail sorting equipment, threaten the timely delivery of mail to millions of Americans who rely on the Postal Service for everything from medical prescriptions to ballots. The lawsuit asserts that the Postmaster General implemented these drastic changes to mail service unlawfully, and seeks to stop the service reductions.

On Sept. 17, 2020, District Court Judge Stanley Bastian granted the state's motion for a preliminary injunction, halting the Postal Service's damaging changes nationwide. On Jan. 22, 2021, the federal government voluntarily dismissed its appeal of the preliminary injunction.

FINAL RESOLUTION: As a result, and because Washington obtained the relief required to protect the counting of ballots during the 2020 election, Washington voluntarily dismissed the case on Feb. 16, 2021.

 

California et al. v. EPA 
Subject: Greenhouse gas threshold rule
Date Filed: 1/19/21
Leading State(s): California
Joining States: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, District of Columbia; Broward County, City of Boulder, City of Chicago, City of Los Angeles, City of New York, City of South Miami, California Air Resources Board

Overview

On Jan. 19, 2021, Washington joined a coalition of attorneys general and municipalities to file a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s final rule attempting to block future regulation of industries responsible for more than half of all greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources, including emissions from the oil and gas industry, through rulemaking dealing with greenhouse gas standards for new power plants. Finalized just days before the Trump Administration leaves office, the rule creates a new, arbitrary threshold to determine if an industry is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. If the industry emits less than three percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, the EPA claims it cannot be regulated under section 111 of the Clean Air Act. The EPA rushed out this new arbitrary test without first providing notice to the public and an opportunity to comment, which makes it illegal under the Clean Air Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.

FINAL RESOLUTION: On April 5, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated the rule. The motion to vacate the rule that the court granted was filed by the EPA, after it agreed with the states' arguments.

 

Washington, et al. v. U.S. Department of State, et al.
Subject: 3D printed guns
Date Filed: 7/30/18
Leading State(s): Washington
Joining States: Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Maryland, New York, and District of Columbia

Overview

On July 30, 2018, Washington, seven states and the District of Columbia filed a complaint and a motion for temporary restraining order, arguing that Trump Administration actions to allow the distribution of data files for downloadable, 3D-printed firearms violate the Administrative Procedure Act and the Tenth Amendment. On July 31, 2018, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Lasnik granted Washington's request for a temporary restraining order blocking the distribution of the data files for downloadable 3D-printed firearms.Judge Lasnik converted the TRO to a nationwide preliminary injunction on August 27, 2018. 

FINAL RESOLUTION: On Nov. 12, 2019, Judge Lasnik vacated the Administration’s decision to allow the distribution of data files for downloadable, 3D-printed firearms, agreeing with arguments made by the states in their motion for summary judgment. On Jan. 14, 2020, Defense Distributed and other third-party defendants appealed Judge Lasnik’s decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. On July 21, 2020, the Ninth Circuit dismissed Defense Distributed’s appeal. On Aug. 4, 2020, Defense Distributed field a petition for rehearing en banc. On Jan. 5, 2021, the court denied the petition.

 

Washington et al. v. Vought et al.
Subject: Sale of the Seattle National Archives
Date Filed: 1/4/2021
Leading State(s): Washington
Joining States, Tribal Nations and organizations: Oregon; Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation. Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians, Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, Doyon, Ltd., Duwamish Tribe, Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon, Hoh Indian Tribe, Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, Kalispel Tribe of Indians, The Klamath Tribes, Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, Nez Perce Tribe, Nooksack Indian Tribe, Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, Puyallup Tribe of Indians, Quileute Tribe of the Quileute Reservation, Quinault Indian Nation, Samish Indian Nation, Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, Skokomish Indian Tribe, Snoqualmie Indian Tribe, Spokane Tribe of Indians, Squaxin Island Tribe, Suquamish Tribe, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, Tanana Chiefs Conference, Central Council of the Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, Upper Skagit Indian Tribe, Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, American Historical Association, Association of King County Historical Organizations, Chinese American Citizens Alliance, Historic Seattle, HistoryLink, Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI), OCA Asian Pacific Advocates – Greater Seattle , Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, Wing Luke Memorial Foundation d/b/a Wing Luke Museum

Overview

On Jan. 4, 2021, Washington was joined by Oregon, 29 federally recognized tribes, Alaska Native tribal entities and tribal communities from Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska, as well as nine community organizations, historical preservation societies and museums to file a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s expedited sale of the National Archives building in Seattle and plans to move its irreplaceable records to Kansas City, Mo., and Riverside, Calif. The National Archives building in Seattle hosts original, unique and un-digitized tribal and treaty records, as well as Chinese Exclusion Act case files and records regarding the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. The records are invaluable resources for researchers, historians and individuals seeking information about their family history or heritage, and for tribes seeking to establish treaty rights and tribal membership. The lawsuit asserts the sale violates the conditions Congress placed on agencies’ ability to sell federal properties on an expedited basis. Further, the federal government refused to consult or cooperate with local stakeholders, including tribal governments, in making the decision to sell the property.

FINAL RESOLUTION: On Feb. 16, 2021, U.S. District Court Judge John C. Coughenour granted Washington's motion for a preliminary injunction, blocking the sale of the National Archives building in Seattle while the case continued. After the new administration reversed its policy on the sale, the case was dismissed without prejudice on May 26, 2021.

 

Washington v. Trump, et al.
Subject: Border wall funding
Date Filed: 9/19/19
Leading State(s): Washington
Joining States:  

Overview

On September 19, 2019, Washington filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s diversion of nearly $89 million of congressionally approved military construction funds from the Bangor submarine base to help fund the president’s border wall. In its request for funding, the Department of Defense wrote about the Bangor pier project’s importance to military readiness, asserting that if the Bangor pier project is not funded, “full operational capability of the [transit protection] mission cannot be executed. [Nuclear Weapons Security] posture will continue to fall short of DoD directives and requirements.”

Ferguson asserts that the Trump Administration violated the Administrative Procedure Act and Articles 1 and 2 of the U.S. Constitution with his the president’s emergency declaration and subsequent diversion of congressionally appropriated funding. The Constitution grants Congress the exclusive power to appropriate federal funds. Ferguson also alleges multiple statutory violations, including that the president’s emergency declaration was made in bad faith.

On Feb. 27, 2020, U.S. District Court Judge Barbara J. Rothstein issued an order reversing and prohibiting the Trump Administration's decision to divert the $89 million in construction funds for Bangor to any border wall project. On April 19, 2020, the federal goverment appealed Judge Rothstein's decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The case is stayed pending the outcome of a related case.

FINAL RESOLUTION: On June 11, 2021, the Biden Administration notified the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington that it has returned all remaining funds to the military to be used for their congressionally authorized military construction projects, including the nearly $89 million for the project at Naval Base Kitsap.

 

Washington v. DeVos
Subject: CARES Act Higher Education Relief Fund
Date Filed: 5/19/20
Leading State(s): Washington
Joining States:  

Overview

On May 19, 2020, Washington challenged the Department of Education’s decision to restrict Higher Eductation Relief Fund money, provided as part of the CARES Act to help college students financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, to only those students who qualify for federal financial aid. The Department of Education’s restriction excludes many students in need, including students without a high school degree, adult basic education students, students who have Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) status, running start students and more. As a result of the department’s decision, thousands of Washington higher education students who desperately need financial assistance have been excluded from the program.

On June 12, 2020, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas O. Rice granted Washington's motion for a preliminary injunction, largely blocking the department's decision.

FINAL RESOLUTION: On May 11, 2021, the Department of Education published a final rule reversing the previous administration's policy. The case was dismissed On June 22, 2021.

 

Legal Victories - Appealed or Could Be Appealed

 

New York et al. v. U.S. Department of Labor
Subject: Association Health Plans
Date Filed: 7/26/18
Leading State(s): New York
Joining States: Massachusetts, California, Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, and District of Columbia

Overview

On July 26, 2018, Washington and 11 other attorneys general filed a lawsuit challenging a Department of Labor rule that allows small businesses and self-employed individuals to join association health plans, which could significantly draw healthy people out of state health care exchanges. According to the lawsuit, the rule, published June 21, 2018, unlawfully expands the definition of “employer” as passed by Congress. This conflicts with the clear statutory structure Congress set up when it passed the Affordable Care Act. The states’ lawsuit argues that expanding this definition requires an act of Congress, meaning the Trump Administration cannot do it unilaterally. 

On March 28, 2019, U.S. District Court Judge John D. Bates granted the states’ motion for summary judgment, striking down the two provisions that form the crux of the rule, and saying it “is clearly an end-run around the ACA.” The Administration has appealed the ruling to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Oral arguments are set for Nov. 14, 2019. The case is now in abeyance.

 

California, et al. v. Zinke, et al.
Subject: Coal leasing on public lands
Date Filed: 5/9/17
Leading State(s): California
Joining States: New Mexico, New York, Washington

Overview

On May 9, 2017, Washington and three other states filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana, Great Falls Division, challenging the Department of the Interior’s decision to restart a program to lease coal-mining rights on public land without supplementing or replacing its nearly 40-year-old environmental study about the environmental harms of mining on federal land. On April 19, 2019, U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris ruled that the Trump Administration must comply with federal law requiring federal agencies to conduct environmental review before taking actions that impact the environment. 

 

Washington v. Azar
Subject: Conscience rule
Date Filed: 5/13/19
Leading State(s): Washington
Joining States:  

Overview

On May 28, 2019, Washington filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington challenging the Trump Administration’s “conscience rule,” which gives health care professionals broad discretion to refuse lawful and medically necessary care to patients for religious or moral reasons, even when the patient’s life is at risk. The lawsuit argues the rule would jeopardize access to reproductive health care, particularly for low-income and rural patients and allow providers to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals. If the federal government believes Washington, its health care institutions, or other recipients of federal health care funds have violated the rule, it may cut off all health care funding to the state — more than $10 billion per year. On Nov. 7, 2019, Judge Stanley Bastian found the rule unlawful, striking it down nationwide. The federal government appealed on Jan. 17, 2020. On Jan. 27, 2021, argument of the appeal was suspended and the appeal was placed in abeyance.

 

Washington v. Azar et al.
Subject: Health insurance billing
Date Filed: 1/31/20
Leading State(s): Washington
Joining States:  

Overview

On Jan. 31, 2020, the Washington Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington challenging a new Trump Administration rule requiring health insurance companies to send consumers two separate bills for monthly insurance premiums: one for abortion coverage and another for all other coverage. The lawsuit asserts this unlawful rule would affect more than 200,000 Washingtonians and cause many to inadvertently fail to pay their premiums in full, jeopardizing their health coverage. On April 9, 2020, U.S. District Court Judge Stanley A. Bastian declared the Trump Administration’s Double-Billing Rule “invalid, and without force in Washington” because it violates Washington State’s Reproductive Health Care Access for All Act. The federal government appealed that decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on June 10, 2020. On Jan. 28, 2021, the Ninth Circuit granted the federal government's request for a 60-day stay of its appeal.

 

New York et al. v. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Subject: Vehicle fuel economy standards penalty
Date Filed: 8/2/19
Leading State(s): New York, California
Joining States: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia

Overview

On Aug. 2, 2019, Washington joined 12 other attorneys general seeking review from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on the Trump Administration’s decision to reduce penalties for automakers that fail to meet corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards. The Trump Administration’s new rule violates the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act by repealing a rule adopted under the Obama Administration which imposed an inflation-adjusted penalty of $14 for every tenth of a mile-per-gallon that an automaker falls below the CAFE standards, reducing the penalty by more than half to $5.50 per tenth of a mile-per-gallon. The CAFÉ  penalties are an important tool to ensure car manufacturers continue to improve fuel efficiency in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other harmful air pollutants. If penalties are not adjusted for the cost of inflation, some manufacturers simply roll penalties into the cost of doing business rather than complying with the standards. On Aug. 31, 2020, a panel with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the rule.

 

New York et al. v. Scalia et al.
Subject: Joint Employer Rule
Date Filed: 02/26/2020
Leading State(s): New York, Pennsylvania
Joining States: California, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, District of Columbia.

Overview

On Feb. 26, 2020, Washington joined a coalition of states challenge the U.S. Department of Labor’s joint employer rule, which makes it harder to find that large businesses are “joint employers” under the Fair Labor Standards Act. This will likely harm workers’ ability to ensure employer compliance with minimum wage and overtime pay standards by potentially allowing large employers in a “joint employer” relationship to escape liability for wage violations. On Sept. 8, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granted summary judgment to the states and vacated all but a minor aspect of the Department’s final rule.

 

California et al. v. Azar
Subject: Medicaid Act
Date Filed: 5/13/19
Leading State(s): California
Joining States: Connecticut, Oregon, Massachusetts, Washington

Overview

On May 13, 2019, Washington and four other states filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), alleging HHS and its director, Secretary Alex Azar, are unlawfully attempting to reinterpret the Medicaid Act, disrupting well-established collective bargaining relationships authorized for decades by state labor laws. As part of its effort, HHS also repealed a federal rule that explicitly allowed states to deduct customary employee benefits and union dues from payments to workers in Medicaid home- and community-based services programs. Collectively, the states receive more than $6.5 billion in Medicaid funding for home- and community-based services. On Nov. 17, 2020, the judge granted the states' motion for summary judgment, vacating the Trump Administration's revised rules nationwide. The federal government appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, but on Jan. 29, 2021, asked the court to stay proceedings in its appeal.

 

New York, et al. v. Trump
Subject: DACA
Date Filed: 8/28/20
Leading State(s): Washington, New York, Massachusetts
Joining States: Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and District of Columbia

Overview

On August 28, 2020, Washington and 16 other states filed an revised complaint and motion for summary judgment in the Eastern District of New York over the Trump Administration’s new policy limiting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program while the administration considers ending the program. On Nov. 14, 2020, Judge Nicholas Garaufis granted the motion for summary judgment, agreeing that Acting Secretary Chad Wolf cannot make this type of decision because he was not lawfully appointed.

 

Washington et al. v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security et al.
Subject: Public Charge Rule
Date Filed: 8/14/19
Leading State(s): Washington, Virginia
Joining States: Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island

Overview

On Aug. 14, 2019, Washington co-led a coalition of 13 states in filing a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security over changes to the “public charge” rule that target immigrants and their families. The lawsuit asserts that the Trump Administration’s new rule unlawfully expands the definition of “public charge.”

Under the changes, if an immigrant who is legally in the country uses public benefits to which he or she is entitled ― such as food assistance to feed their U.S. citizen children or housing assistance ― even for a short time, the federal government may revoke their legal status, or even deport them. Immigrant families will likely refrain from applying for services they need out of fear it would be used against their noncitizen family members. Washington estimates that more than 140,000 lawfully present Washingtonians, including many U.S. citizen children, will lose health insurance, and families who need help will forego up to an estimated $55 million annually in food or cash assistance.

On Oct. 11, 2019, District Court Judge Rosanna Malouf Peterson granted the states' motion for a preliminary injunction, blocking the Administration's public charge rule from going into effect while the case continues. On Dec. 5, 2019, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the district court injunction. On Dec. 2, 2020, the 9th Circuit affirmed the merits of the district court's opinion, reinstating the injunction in the states involved in the case.

 

Washington v. Public Buildings Reform Board
Subject: FOIA request on National Archives in Seattle
Date Filed: 9/16/2020
Leading State(s): Washington
Joining States:  

Overview

On Sept. 16, 2020, Washington filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington seeking to force the Public Buildings Reform Board to produce records the Attorney General’s Office requested through the Freedom of Information Act regarding the federal government’s decision to close the Federal Archives & Records Center in Seattle and sell the property. The Attorney General’s Office made the document request on Feb. 3, 2020. After more than six months, the agency has not produced any records to the Attorney General’s Office. On Jan. 5, 2021, the court granted Washington's motion for summary judgment, ordering the Public Buildings Reform Board to produce all the records Washington requested related to the decision to sell the National Archives building in Seattle.

 

California et al. v. EPA
Subject: Asbestos reporting
Date Filed: 6/28/19
Leading State(s): California, Massachusetts
Joining States: Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington, District of Columbia

Overview

On June 28, 2019, Washington joined 10 other Attorneys General to file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California seeking to force the EPA to establish rules concerning industry reporting requirements for asbestos under the Toxic Substances Control Act. In January, Ferguson joined 14 other Attorneys General to petition the EPA to expand reporting of asbestos in manufacturing, importing and processing. In April, the EPA denied the petition, prompting the states’ lawsuit. 

On Dec. 22, 2020, the court granted the states' motion for summary judgment, ruling that EPA had improperly denied the petition for rulemaking, and remanding to EPA with direction to amend the industry reporting requirements as requested in the states.

 

New York et al. v. EPA
Subject: Clean Power Plan repeal
Date Filed: 8/13/19
Leading State(s): New York
Joining States: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia, and the chief legal officers of Boulder, Colo., Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia and South Miami, Fla.

Overview

On August 13, 2019, the Washington state Attorney General’s Office and a coalition of 21 attorneys general and seven cities sought review from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan and replace it with the “Affordable Clean Energy” rule, which would not require significant carbon emission reductions.

According to the states’ petition for review, the repeal and replacement is a violation of the Clean Air Act. The new rule would result in an increase in air pollution compared to the Clean Power Plan. The EPA’s own analysis shows that the increased pollution will likely cause thousands more illnesses and deaths per year. In Washington state, the rule could cause an increase in carbon emissions, even more than if the EPA chose to repeal the Clean Power Plan and do nothing to replace it. 

On Jan. 19, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated the Trump Administration’s Affordable Clean Energy rule, agreeing with the states that the administration’s repeal of the Clean Power Plan and adoption of the rule was unlawful.

 

Washington v. U.S. Department of Transportation et al.
Subject: Train crew staffing
Date Filed: 7/29/19
Leading State(s): Washington
Joining States:  

Overview

On July 29, 2019, the Washington State Attorney General’s Office sought review from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit of the Trump Administration’s May 29, 2019, decision to withdraw proposed 2016 regulations establishing minimum requirement of two staff on a train crew. The proposed regulations arose out of two devastating oil train accidents in 2013, in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, and Casselton, N.D.

Washington asserts that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s and Federal Railroad Administration’s withdrawal of the proposed minimum staffing regulations violates the Administrative Procedure Act, the Federal Railroad Safety Act and related regulations.

On Feb. 23, 2021, a three-judge panel with the Ninth Circuit unanimously vacated the Trump Administration’s unlawful attempt impose a national one-crew standard without proper notice and comment.

 

New York et al. v. Wheeler
Subject: Pesticides
Date Filed: 8/7/19
Leading State(s): New York
Joining States: California, Maryland, Massachusetts, Vermont, Washington

Overview

On Aug. 7, 2019, Washington joined five other attorneys general seeking review from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on the Trump Administration’s decision to deny the states’ objections and allow the continued use of the neurotoxic pesticide chlorpyrifos. The states, in addition to Hawaii and the District of Columbia, had previously intervened in a separate case seeking to ensure the Environmental Protection Agency completed its review of chlorpyrifos to protect farmworkers and those living in agricultural communities. On April 20, 2021, ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to ban chlorpyrifos unless it can find that it is safe for children.

 

Other Lawsuits against the Trump Administration in which Washington is the Lead

 

Karnoski et al. v. Trump, et al.
Subject: Military transgender ban
Date Filed: 9/25/17
Leading State(s): Washington
Joining States:  

Overview

Washington is home to 60,000 members of the active and reserve military, including over 8,000 soldiers and airmen in the Washington National Guard. The National Guard is integral to Washington’s emergency preparedness and disaster recovery planning. President Trump’s ban on transgender individuals in the military applies to Washington’s National Guard as well as the active duty military, restricting the Guard’s recruiting pool.

Our motion to intervene was granted on November 14, 2017. On December 11, 2017, Judge Marsha Pechman granted a preliminary injunction, blocking President Trump's ban on transgender individuals in the military while the case moves forward. The Department of Justice moved to dissolve the injunction on March 27, 2018. Judge Pechman denied the motion on April 13. The Administration appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard arguments on Oct. 10. The three-judge panel has not issued a ruling on the appeal. On Jan. 22, 2019, by a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the preliminary injunction, allowing the ban to go into effect while litigation continues.

FINAL RESOLUTION: On Jan. 25, 2021, the Biden Administration issued an executive order reversing the Trump Administration's ban on transgender individuals in the military.

 

Washington v. Trump, et al.
Subject: Contraception access
Date Filed: 10/9/17
Leading State(s): Washington
Joining States:  

Overview

On October 9, 2017, the Washington state Attorney General’s Office filed suit in the Western District of Washington challenging President Trump’s interim rules restricting contraception access.

If allowed to go forward, President Trump’s rules could have a significant impact on more than 1.5 million Washington workers and their dependents who receive insurance through their employer’s self-funded plan. One study by the Center for American Progress found that contraception costs can generally exceed $1,000 a year without insurance coverage. Some Washington women who currently use contraception may be denied no-cost coverage and be forced to turn to state-funded programs to receive the care they need. State-funded reproductive health services helped more than 90,000 patients in 2016 alone. More than three-quarters of those patients were women who used contraception, saving the state an estimated $160 million in maternal and birth-related costs, according to a report from the Washington State Department of Health.

In November of 2018, the Administration issued new final rules, replacing the interim rules at issue in Washington’s lawsuit.

FINAL RESOLUTION: As a result, on Dec. 18, 2018, Washington voluntarily dismissed its case challenging the interim rules without prejudice and joined a separate multistate lawsuit, California v. Azar, challenging the new final rules.

 

Washington v. Trump (amended)
Subject: Second travel ban
Date Filed: 3/15/17
Leading State(s): Washington
Joining States: California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, and Oregon

Overview

Judge Robart heard Washington’s challenge to the revised travel ban on March 15. Before he could rule, judges in Maryland and Hawaii issued nationwide injunctions blocking the implementation of the ban. Judge Robart chose not to issue a ruling given that the revised travel ban was already halted. Washington amended its complaint when the third travel ban was issued.

 

Washington v. Trump (amended)
Subject: Third travel ban
Date Filed: 10/11/17
Leading State(s): Washington
Joining States: California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, and Oregon

Overview

On October 11, 2017, Washington filed a revised complaint in the Western District of Washington challenging President Trump’s third travel ban. President Trump’s third attempt at a travel ban is broader than previous iterations because rather than imposing a “temporary pause,” it indefinitely bans immigration by individuals from affected countries. Washington’s complaint includes dozens of declarations from individuals, universities, state agencies, healthcare system administrators, and businesses regarding the travel ban’s adverse impacts. Judge Robart chose not to issue a ruling.

FINAL RESOLUTION: Washington voluntarily withdrew its lawsuit on Nov. 2, 2018, retaining the right to refile the case if circumstances warrant it.

 

Washington v. United States
Subject: Family separation
Date Filed: 6/26/18
Leading State(s): Washington
Joining States: Massachusetts, California, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and District of Columbia

Overview

Washington state leads a coalition of 17 states (plus DC), in a challenge to the Administration’s policy of separating immigrant families along the SW border. The States claim that the Administration violated the constitutional rights of families by separating parents and children without any finding that the parents are unfit or pose a threat to the children, and that family separation is not a legitimate a means of deterring immigration. The States also argue that the Administration has been violating federal asylum laws by turning away families that present at ports of entry, that they have interposed unnecessary burdens on reunification, and that the stated intention to house families indefinitely in detention centers is also impermissible.  Parents who were separated from their children were detained at the Federal Detention Center in Seatac, and a number of children were detained in Seattle and other locations in Western Washington.  Several family members remain in our state as their immigration matters proceed.

The States filed the lawsuit in Seattle in late June, and it was transferred to the Southern District of California. The case is currently pending in the Southern District of California.

 

Washington v. EPA
Subject: Water quality standards
Date Filed: 6/6/19
Leading State(s): Washington
Joining States:  

Overview

On June 6, 2019, Washington filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to revise Washington’s water quality standards, which are used to determine how clean the state’s waters must be in order to protect human health. In 2016, EPA revised the standards. In February 2017, an industry group requested the EPA reconsider its 2016 revisions. In May of this year, more than two years later, EPA announced its decision to grant the industry group’s request without any evidence that the 2016 standards are insufficient.

Revising the standards now, Washington’s lawsuit argues, would create confusion and disrupt the work Washington has already completed to meet the standards. The revision is a violation of the Clean Water Act, which only allows the EPA to revise an existing standard if the standard is not stringent enough — which is not the case with Washington’s existing standards.

 

Washington v. U.S. Navy
Subject: Growler program expansion
Date Filed: 7/9/19
Leading State(s): Washington
Joining States:  

Overview

On July 9, 2019, Washington filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, asserting the U.S. Navy violated the National Environmental Policy Act, the federal Administrative Procedure Act and the National Historic Preservation Act by improperly analyzing the impact an expansion of its Growler program would have on human and environmental health and historical resources, and also failing to consider ways to minimize those impacts.

Growlers are aircraft that fly low in order to jam enemy communications. The expansion would increase Growler take-offs and landings to nearly 100,000 per year for the next 30 years. The lawsuit seeks to force the U.S. Navy to comply with the law and thoroughly analyze the dangers the increase in loud Growler traffic may pose to Washingtonians and wildlife on and around Whidbey Island.

 

Washington v. Azar, et al.
Subject: Title X "gag rule"
Date Filed: 3/5/19
Leading State(s): Washington
Joining States:  

Overview

On March 5, 2019, Washington filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington challenging the Trump Administration’s “gag rule” that impacts Title X, the federal funding program for reproductive healthcare and family planning services. The Trump Administration’s new rule imposes a “gag” on Title X providers that prohibits them from referring their patients to abortion providers. It also requires Title X providers to refer each pregnant patient into a prenatal care program, regardless of the patient’s wishes or the provider’s medical judgment.

If not blocked, the rule will force out of the program health care professionals who provide nearly 90 percent of Title X family planning services to Washington patients, keeping thousands of vulnerable Washingtonians from reasonably accessing contraception, cancer and STI screening and other family planning care.

On April 25, 2019, District Court Judge Stanley Bastian granted Washington's request for a preliminary injunction, blocking the new rule from going into effect nationwide. On June 20, 2019, a three-judge panel with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit stayed the preliminary injunction. On July 3, 2019, the Ninth Circuit granted Washington’s motion for an en banc rehearing on the motion to stay Judge Bastian’s preliminary injunction. On July 11, 2019, the Ninth Circuit upheld its decision to stay the preliminary injunction in a 7-4 vote. Oral arguments before the en banc panel were held on Sept. 23, 2019.

FINAL RESOLUTION: After the Biden Administration initiated rulemaking to reverse the Trump Administration's "gag rule," Washington dismissed its lawsuit on June 11, 2021.

 

Washington v. Department of Homeland Security, et al.
Subject: Courthouse arrests
Date Filed: 12/17/19
Leading State(s): Washington
Joining States:  

Overview

On Dec. 17, 2019, Washington filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington challenging the Trump Administration for arresting immigrants in and near courthouses in Washington. This practice is harmful to public safety and Washington’s justice system.

Since 2017, immigration authorities have arrested hundreds of immigrants in or near courthouses in Washington. Contrary to the assertions of immigration officials, evidence shows these arrests are not limited to dangerous individuals. Many were victims of crime or appeared in court on nonviolent charges, such as traffic offenses, with no prior criminal record. Others were there to register motor vehicles, pay traffic tickets or accompany a relative to court. The lawsuit asserts that civil arrests in and around courthouses violate long-standing common law privileges against such arrests. This conduct also violates the Tenth Amendment, which provides states the autonomy to control the operation of their judiciaries and prosecute crime without federal interference. On Feb. 19, 2021, the court stayed the case for 120 days.

 

Washington et al. v. U.S. Department of State et al.
Subject: 3D Printed Guns
Date Filed: 1/23/20
Leading State(s): Washington
Joining States: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, District Of Columbia

Overview

On Jan. 23, 2020, Washington filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington challenging the Trump Administration’s effort to allow 3D-printed gun files to be released on the internet by publishing new rules that would transfer regulation of 3D-printed guns from the State Department to the Department of Commerce, effectively allowing their unlimited distribution. On March 6, 2020, the District Court issued a preliminary injunction, blocking the transfer of 3D-printed gun files to Commerce and requiring the State Department to continue regulating them while the multistate lawsuit continues. On May 5, 2020, the Trump Administration appealed the preliminary injunction to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Oral arguments were held on Jan. 11, 2021. On April 27, 2021, the 9th Circuit vacated the preliminary injunction and remanded the case back to the district court with instructions to dismiss the case.

FINAL RESOLUTION: Though Washington was confident it could overturn the 9th Circuit’s ruling before an en banc panel of the circuit court, Washington ultimately decided not to appeal the ruling as it was satisfied with the new Biden Administration’s efforts to restrict the distribution of 3D-printed gun files. Washington also worked with the Biden Administration to help it craft Commerce department guidance clarifying that its regulations apply to all file types for 3D-printed guns, including CAD files.

 

Washington v. Azar
Subject: Affordable Care Act Section 1557 rule
Date Filed: 7/16/2020
Leading State(s): Washington
Joining States:  

Overview

On July 16, 2020, Washington filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s rule vastly limiting anti-discrimination protections under the Affordable Care Act. Among many other changes, the rule removes explicit protections against discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sex stereotyping. This allows for discrimination against LGBTQ patients — particularly transgender patients. The Washington State Department of Health estimates that, if the rule stands, between 5,200 and 16,000 transgender Washingtonians will lose coverage for gender affirming health care services. An additional 82,000 LGBTQ Washingtonians will lose protection from discrimination as they seek health care. On Aug. 28, Judge Robart denied Washington's motion for preliminary injunction in the case after a judge in a separate case in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York already issued a nationwide injunction on the part of the rule relating to discrimination on the basis of sex. The District of Columbia District Court further issued a nationwide injunction on the part of the rule that purported to exempt health programs or activities run by religious institutions from having to comply with Section 1557’s anti-discrimination protections. 

FINAL RESOLUTION: Following these positive rulings in the Southern District of New York and the District of Columbia, Washington voluntarily moved to dismiss its case. 

 

California et al. v. Wheeler et al.
Subject: Clean Water Act Section 401
Date Filed: 7/21/2020
Leading State(s): Washington, California, New York
Joining States: Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, Washington, D.C.

Overview

On July 21, 2020, Washington and 20 other attorneys general filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s rules implementing section 401 of the Clean Water Act regarding states’ certification of water quality. This section allows states and tribal nations to protect health and human safety within their geographic boundaries by making permitting decisions related to the discharge of waste into state waterways. The new rule takes effect on September 11, 2020, and will handicap states’ abilities to regulate water quality. The rule forces states to issue permits based on an incomplete review of what effects industries will have on waterways. States will only be able to consider a narrow range of impacts these projects have on water quality, even when the consequences cause far-reaching and even irreversible environmental damage. The rule also limits the amount of information industry must provide, unreasonably reduces the amount of time states have to make decisions or deny permits and attempts to grant the federal government oversight of projects rather than states. On Feb. 22, 2021, the court stayed the case for 60 days.

 

Washington v. U.S. National Archives & Records Administration
Subject: FOIA request on National Archives in Seattle
Date Filed: 8/17/2020
Leading State(s): Washington
Joining States:  

Overview

On Aug. 17, 2020, Washington filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington seeking to force the U.S. National Archives & Records Administration to produce records the Attorney General’s Office requested through the Freedom of Information Act regarding the federal government’s decision to close the Federal Archives & Records Center in Seattle and sell the property. The Attorney General’s Office made the document request on Feb. 3, 2020. After more than six months, the agency has not produced any records to the Attorney General’s Office.

 

Washington v. Office of Management & Budget
Subject: FOIA request on National Archives in Seattle
Date Filed: 8/17/2020
Leading State(s): Washington
Joining States:  

Overview

On Aug. 17, 2020, Washington filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington seeking to force the Office of Management & Budget to produce records the Attorney General’s Office requested through the Freedom of Information Act regarding the federal government’s decision to close the Federal Archives & Records Center in Seattle and sell the property. The Attorney General’s Office made the document request on Feb. 3, 2020. After more than six months, the agency has not produced any records to the Attorney General’s Office.

 

Washington v. General Services Administration
Subject: FOIA request on National Archives in Seattle
Date Filed: 8/17/2020
Leading State(s): Washington
Joining States:  

Overview

On Aug. 17, 2020, Washington filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington seeking to force the General Services Administration to produce records the Attorney General’s Office requested through the Freedom of Information Act regarding the federal government’s decision to close the Federal Archives & Records Center in Seattle and sell the property. The Attorney General’s Office made the document request on Feb. 3, 2020. After more than six months, the agency has not produced any records to the Attorney General’s Office.

 

California et al. v. Council on Environmental Quality
Subject: National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
Date Filed: 8/28/2020
Leading State(s): Washington, California
Joining States: Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Guam, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wisconsin, Harris County (Texas), New York City, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

Overview

On Aug. 28, 2020, Washington and 22 other attorneys general, as well as Harris County (Texas), New York City and two state agencies, filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s revised final rule implementing NEPA, effectively gutting this bedrock environmental law. Washington’s former U.S. Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson helped draft NEPA, which became law in 1970. The Trump Administration’s final rule violates both NEPA and the Administrative Procedure Act. The final rule is unlawful, arbitrary and capricious, and contrary to NEPA’s language and purpose.  The Trump Administration’s final rule will severely limit the types of federal actions requiring agency review of environmental effects, restrict the scope of environmental reviews that do occur, diminish public participation in federal decisions and unlawfully seek to block judicial review of agency actions that violate NEPA. On Feb. 12, 2021, the court entered a 60-day stay in the case.

 

Washington et al. v. Bernhardt et al.
Subject: Arctic National Wildlife Refuge drilling plan
Date Filed: 9/9/2020
Leading State(s): Washington, Massachusetts
Joining States: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont

Overview

On Sept. 9, 2020, Washington filed a lawsuit along with 14 other states seeking to block any exploration activities and to prevent the government from issuing oil and gas development leases in the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The lawsuit alleges the administration conducted a flawed environmental review that failed to take a hard look at the drilling plan’s impacts on migratory birds, greenhouse gas emissions, and climate change. These impacts harm Washington. For example, without greenhouse gas mitigation, ocean acidification — the ocean’s absorption of excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere — along Washington’s coast is expected to cause a 34 percent decline in shellfish survival by 2100, threatening thousands of Washington jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars the shellfish industry contributes to the state’s economy. Harm to migratory birds that fly to and from the Coastal Plain to and from Washington impact Washington’s wildlife and their economic contribution to the state’s economy — in 2011, bird and wildlife watchers expended $3.2 billion in Washington. On Feb. 12, 2021, the court entered a 60-day stay in the case.

 

Other Lawsuits against the Trump Administration

Washington has filed 24 additional lawsuits against the Trump Administration. These legal actions are all part of multistate lawsuits with another state serving as the lead. This approach allows states to operate efficiently by sharing the work.

 

California et al. v. Trump
Subject: Cost sharing reduction subsidies
Date Filed: 10/14/17
Leading State(s): California
Joining States: Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and District of Columbia

Overview

On October 14, 2017, Washington, 16 other states, and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s decision to unilaterally terminate cost-sharing reduction subsidies, which reduce out-of-pocket health care costs for low-income Americans. The lawsuit, filed in the Northern District of California, asserts that the president’s decision to withhold the payments is illegal and unconstitutional. The Trump Administration’s action will increase the premiums of 100,000 Washingtonians by as much as 28 percent. 

After the lawsuit was filed, Washington and several other States made a regulatory change that permitted many of the Washingtonians who would have been injured by the president’s decision to obtain increased premium subsidies for their health insurance purchased on exchanges. As of this date, the Trump Administration had acquiesced in this regulatory change.

FINAL RESOLUTION: On July 18, 2018, Judge Vince Chhabria granted the states’ motion to dismiss the case without prejudice, allowing the states to file a new lawsuit in the future on the same issue if prompted by further federal action.

 

Maryland, et al. v. Department of Education
Subject: Gainful Employment Rule
Date Filed: 10/17/17
Leading State(s): Maryland and Pennsylvania
Joining States: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and District of Columbia

Overview

On October 17, 2017, Washington, 16 other states, and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit against the Department of Education for unlawfully delaying the gainful employment rule. The gainful employment rule keeps colleges from offering worthless degrees and leaving their graduates with high levels of debt. It denies federal financial aid to schools whose graduates do not make enough money to repay the student loans they took out to earn their degrees. Ultimately, the Department of Education promulgated a replacement gainful employment rule before a judge could rule on the merits of the states’ case.

FINAL RESOLUTION: On Dec. 22, 2020, the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled the case was moot. 

 

New York, et al. v. Pruitt, et al.
Subject: Waters of the United States
Date Filed: 2/6/18
Leading State(s): New York
Joining States: California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and District of Columbia

Overview

On Feb. 6, 2018, we joined 10 other Attorneys General to file a lawsuit in the Southern District of New York challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to suspend the “waters of the United States” rule. The rule provides much-needed clarity about which waters qualify for protection under the Clean Water Act, and which waters are only regulated by sometimes inconsistent state laws. The “waters of the United States” rule applies the Clean Water Act to both navigable waters and upstream waters that impact the chemical, physical and biological integrity of navigable waters, providing uniformity for state and federal regulators and project managers alike. The states await a decision from the court on motions for summary judgment.

FINAL RESOLUTION: After judges in other, similar cases prevented the Administration from suspending the "waters of the United States" rule, the Administration notified the court that it would not pursue appeals or continue to defend the suspension in this case. The Court dismissed the case.

 

New York et al. v. Pruitt
Subject: Existing oil and gas facilities
Date Filed: 4/5/18
Leading State(s): New York
Joining States: California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and District of Columbia; City of Chicago

Overview

On April 5, 2018, state attorneys general filed a lawsuit against the EPA and EPA head Scott Pruitt, challenging delays in implementing a rule regulating emissions from existing oil and gas facilities. Once the EPA adopts a rule to limit emissions from new and modified facilities in a given industrial sector, which it did in 2016, it must establish guidelines for limiting emissions from existing facilities. Pruitt abruptly ordered the EPA to halt the process for establishing guidelines for existing oil and gas facilities in March 2017. The rule provides important protections for Washington’s residents against the release of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that has more than 80 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. Existing oil and natural gas facilities will account for up to 90 percent of the total methane emissions by facilities in 2018. The case is currently pending in federal court.

 

California et al. v. EPA
Subject: Vehicle emissions
Date Filed: 5/1/18
Leading State(s): California
Joining States: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and District of Columbia

Overview

On May 1, 2018, Washington and 17 other states filed a petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit after EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced his decision to restart the approval process for vehicle emissions standards for car and light-duty truck models produced between 2022 and 2025. The standards ensure that new vehicles have better fuel economy and lower greenhouse gas emissions. The EPA had determined in January 2017 that these standards were viable for the auto industry, but Pruitt rescinded the standards without providing any evidence that invalidates the EPA’s 2017 determination. On Oct. 25, 2019, the court recognized the EPA has a high bar to overcome the extensive evidence supporting these standards. The panel held that “if EPA’s rulemaking results in changes to the existing 2012 standards, it will be required to provide a reasoned explanation and cannot ignore prior factual findings and the supporting record evidence contradicting the new policy." However, the panel held that EPA’s withdrawal of the midterm evaluation could not be challenged at this time because it is not a final decision and doesn’t have any legal effect. The court’s ruling just means the states will need to re-file their case when the EPA issues a final decision to roll back its clean car standards.

 

California v. Azar
Subject: Contraception access
Date Filed: 12/18/18
Leading State(s): California
Joining States: Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and District of Columbia

Overview

On Dec. 18, 2018, the Washington state Attorney General’s Office joined a multistate lawsuit in the Northern District of California challenging President Trump’s final rules restricting contraception access.

If allowed to go forward, President Trump’s rules could have a significant impact on more than 1.5 million Washington workers and their dependents who receive insurance through their employer’s self-funded plan. One study by the Center for American Progress found that contraception costs can generally exceed $1,000 a year without insurance coverage. Some Washington women who currently use contraception may be denied no-cost coverage and be forced to turn to state-funded programs to receive the care they need. State-funded reproductive health services helped more than 90,000 patients in 2016 alone. More than three-quarters of those patients were women who used contraception, saving the state an estimated $160 million in maternal and birth-related costs, according to a report from the Washington State Department of Health.

On Jan. 13, 2019, U.S. District Court Judge Haywood S. Gilliam Jr. granted the states' motion for a preliminary injunction, which blocks the rules from going into effect in all states that are involved in the challenge, as well as the District of Columbia, until the case is resolved. The Administration appealed the injuction to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. On Oct. 22, 2019, a panel with the 9th Circuit ruled in favor of the states, and upheld the injunction. In July, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated the Ninth Circuit's order. On Oct. 8, 2020, the Ninth Circuit vacated the preliminary injunction and remanded the case back to the District Court. The case is in abeyance until April 30, 2021.

 

California v. McAleenan, et al.
Subject: Flores Agreement rule
Date Filed: 8/26/19
Leading State(s): California
Joining States: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington, Vermont, Virginia and the District of Columbia

Overview

On August 26, 2019, Washington and 19 other states filed a lawsuit challenging new Trump Administration rules that remove significant protections against the mistreatment of immigrant children and families apprehended at the U.S. border, allowing for their indefinite detention in facilities without adequate standards of care or state oversight.

The new rules, published August 23, 2019, override a longstanding court-approved settlement - known as the Flores Agreement - that governs the humane treatment of immigrant children in federal custody. The states' lawsuit asserts that the Trump Administration's new rules unlawfully permit federal officials to detain children and families in unlicensed facilities without adequate standards of care to protect the safety and well-being of immigrant children.

On Sept. 27, 2019, U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee issued a permanent injunction in the original Flores case blocking the Administration from implementing its new rules. The states’ case, including a motion for an injunction and supporting declarations, was also pending before Judge Gee. In granting the injunction, Judge Gee agreed with many of the states’ arguments in their case.

 

California, et al. v. Chao, et al.
Subject: Vehicle emission standards
Date Filed: 9/20/19
Leading State(s): California
Joining States: Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia, as well as Los Angeles and New York City

Overview

On Sept. 20, 2019, the Washington state Attorney General’s Office and a multistate coalition of attorneys general filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit challenging the Trump Administration’s attempt to block Washington’s and other states’ ability to set more stringent vehicle emission standards. 

Washington and the states assert that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) exceeded its authority and violated Congress’ intent when it issued a regulation declaring that federal law prevents states from setting more stringent vehicle emission standards. Blocking these states’ ability to set stricter greenhouse gas vehicle emission standards would prohibit them from following any standards other than those set by the federal government, an action the states assert will increase greenhouse gas emissions, further exacerbating the impacts caused by climate change. On Feb. 11, 2021, the court stayed this case pending the outcome of a related case.

 

California, et al. v. Bernhardt, et al.
Subject: Endangered Species Act rules
Date Filed: 9/25/2019
Leading State(s): California, Maryland and Massachusetts
Joining States: Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, the District of Columbia and the City of New York

Overview

On Sept. 25, 2019, Washington, 17 states, the District of Columbia and the City of New York filed a lawsuit challenging Trump Administration rules that significantly undermine the Endangered Species Act, a cornerstone of national conservation law. The lawsuit argues that rules illegally and arbitrarily weaken essential protections in the Endangered Species Act and that the federal government failed to consider the environmental impacts of these changes in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act.

Washington is home to 49 species listed under the federal Endangered Species Act, including southern resident killer whales, pygmy rabbits, green sea turtles and several salmon species such as chinook, chum and sockeye. The new rules gut essential protections for these species by making it more difficult to protect their critical habitat, making it easier for federal agencies to take actions that may jeopardize species’ survival and recovery, and removing recovery as a key consideration in delisting a species. Three species in Washington — western pond turtles, wolverines and Island Marble butterflies — are candidate species, meaning they are under consideration for threatened or endangered status. These species, and others needing protections in the future, are more likely to be denied federal protection under the new rules. On Feb. 16, 2021, the court stayed the case for 60 days.

 

New York v. Department of Energy, et al.
Subject: Energy Efficiency Standards for Lightbulbs
Date Filed: 11/4/19
Leading State(s): New York
Joining States: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, Washington, D.C.; City of New York

Overview

On Nov. 4, 2019, Washington joined 15 other attorneys general and the City of New York to file a petition for review with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals challenging Department of Energy’s rollback of energy efficiency standards for lighbulbs. The rules would save consumers at least $12 billion in annual electricity costs, equal to nearly $100 per household. The rules would also reduce national annual greenhouse gas emissions by 34 million metric tons.

 

California et al. v. Wheeler et al.
Subject: Fuel Efficiency Standards Waiver
Date Filed: 11/15/19
Leading State(s): California
Joining States: Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, District Of Columbia; City of Los Angeles, City of New York.

Overview

On Nov. 15, 2019, Washington and 23 other attorneys general and two cities filed a petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit challenging the Trump Administration’s decision to revoke California’s Clean Air Act waiver, which allows it to set vehicle emissions standards that are more stringent than the federal government’s. California’s stricter standards have been adopted in whole or part by Washington 12 other states. On Feb. 8, 2021, the court granted EPA's and NHTSA’s motion to put the case into abeyance.

 

New York et al. v. Wheeler et al.
Subject: Waters of the United States Rule
Date Filed: 12/20/19
Leading State(s): New York
Joining States: California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, District of Columbia; City Of New York.

Overview

On Dec. 20, 2019, Washington joined 14 other Attorneys General and the City of New York to file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s attempt to repeal the 2015 Clean Water Rule, which defines the “waters of the United States.” The rule provides much-needed clarity about which waters qualify for protection under the Clean Water Act. The EPA’s action would replace the rule with 1980s-era regulations. The “waters of the United States” rule applies the Clean Water Act to both navigable waters and upstream waters that impact the chemical, physical and biological integrity of navigable waters, providing uniformity for state and federal regulators and project managers alike.

FINAL RESOLUTION: In April of 2020, the Administration issued new final rules replacing the 2015 “waters of the United States” rule with regulations that will significantly reduce the number of water bodies around the United States that are protected under the Clean Water Act. As a result, on May 1, 2020, Washington joined a separate multistate lawsuit, California et al. v. Wheeler, challenging the new final rules.

 

New York et al. v. U.S. Department of Energy
Subject: Energy efficiency standards for lightbulbs
Date Filed: 02/25/2020
Leading State(s): New York, California
Joining States: Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Vermont, the District of Columbia, and the City of New York.

Overview

On Feb. 25, 2020, Washington joined a coalition of states and local governments to file a petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit challenging the Trump Administration's failure to enact more stringent energy efficiency standards for certain lightbulbs. The Trump Administration’s decision halts energy efficiency improvements to a type of lightbulb known as “general service incandescent lamps,” ignoring direction from Congress to transition the nation to inexpensive, efficient and widely available lighting sources. The attorneys general assert that this unlawful decision would increase greenhouse gas emissions by millions of metric tons and cost consumers $12 billion each year in lost electricity savings by 2025 — a $100 loss per household per year. The case is in abeyance pending the outcome of a related case.

 

California et al. v. U.S. Department of Energy
Subject: Energy Efficiency Process Rule
Date Filed: 04/14/2020
Leading State(s): California
Joining States: Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, the District of Columbia; City of New York

Overview

On April 14, 2020, Washington joined a coalition of 14 attorneys general and the City of New York to challenge the U.S. Department of Energy’s revisions to its energy conservation standards process rule. The rule ensures DOE meets an Energy Policy Conservation Act mandate to create energy conservation standards that benefit the public in a timely manner. The DOE's revisions create a number of roadblocks to the adoption of new standards and the review of existing standards, including setting an unreasonably high threshold for energy efficiency savings that would result in the unnecessary loss of significant energy savings.

 

California et al. v. Wheeler
Subject: Waters of the United States Rule
Date Filed: 05/1/2020
Leading State(s): California, New York
Joining States: Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, Washington, D.C.; City of New York

Overview

On May 1, 2020, Washington joined 18 other attorneys general, and the City of New York, to file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California challenging the Army Corps and Environmental Protection Agency’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule: Definition of Waters of the United States. The 2020 rule replaced a rule the agencies adopted in the Fall of 2019 to replace the 2015 “waters of the United States” rule with agency guidance dating back to the 1980s. The 2015 rule and prior agency guidance applied the Clean Water Act to both navigable waters and upstream waters that impact the chemical, physical and biological integrity of navigable waters, providing uniformity for state and federal regulators and project managers alike. The 2020 rule will significantly reduce the number of water bodies around the United States that are protected under the Clean Water Act.

 

New York et al. v. Wheeler
Subject: Hydroflourocarbons
Date Filed: 05/11/2020
Leading State(s): New York
Joining States: Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Virginia, Washington, District of Columbia; City of New York

Overview

On May 11, 2020, Washington joined 10 other attorneys general and the City of New York to file a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit challenging EPA rules which roll back the federal government’s appliance-maintenance and leak-repair standards for substitute refrigerants, such as the climate super-pollutants hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). HFCs are powerful greenhouse gases with vastly more heat-trapping capacity than carbon dioxide. HFCs have already been phased out internationally. Washington state passed a law in 2019 to phase out many HFCs in the state. The states’ case was consolidated with a separate case, Natural Resources Defense Council v. Wheeler, on May 12, 2020.

 

California et al. v. EPA
Subject: Vehicle Emissions Standards
Date Filed: 05/27/2020
Leading State(s): California
Joining States: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, the District of Columbia, The California Air Resources Board, the Cities of Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Denver and the Counties of San Francisco and Denver

Overview

On May 27, 2020, Washington joined 27 other states and municipalities to file a lawsuit in U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit challenging the Trump Administration’s rollback of federal emissions standards for cars and light-duty trucks. In 2012, the EPA, together with NHTSA, worked with stakeholders, including the auto industry, to set increasingly stringent standards for greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles from model years 2017 through 2025. The Trump Administration now claims that the standards that his own agency had deemed viable in 2017 are no longer achievable for the auto industry, and relaxed the standards. In their final analysis, the EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration themselves determined that the new relaxed standards will increase air pollution and cause more air pollution-related deaths, as well as increased consumer costs due to driving less fuel-efficient vehicles.

 

Pennsylvania et al. v. DeVos
Subject: Title IX sexual assault rule
Date Filed: 6/04/2020
Leading State(s): Pennsylvania, New Jersey, California
Joining States: Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia

Overview

On June 4, 2020, Washington joined 17 other attorneys general to file a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Department of Education’s new rule on reporting sexual assault and harassment at schools and universities. The department’s new rule will chill reporting of sexual harassment and assault. The rule narrows the scope of harassment covered by Title IX. Under the new rule, conduct must be “severe, pervasive and objectively offensive.” Previously, the reports only needed to allege one of those characteristics. The rule also prohibits universities from investigating campus sexual assaults that occur at off-campus housing or study abroad programs. On Feb.14, 2021, the Court granted a joint motion to stay the case.

 

Massachusetts et al. v. EPA et al.
Subject: Mercury & Air Toxics Standards
Date Filed: 7/20/20
Leading State(s): Massachusetts
Joining States: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia; cities of Baltimore, Chicago and New York, and Erie County

Overview

On July 20, 2020, Washington joined 20 other attorneys general to file a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s rule reversing the agency’s determination — first made nearly 20 years ago — that it is “appropriate and necessary” under the Clean Air Act to regulate mercury and other toxic air pollution from coal- and oil-fired power plants. The new rule undermines the 2015 Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), a landmark rule that has substantially reduced emissions of mercury and other hazardous pollutants that harm human health and the environment, and that pose especially significant health risks to children and pregnant women. On Feb. 16, 2021, the Court granted EPA’s motion to put the case into abeyance.

 

Maryland et al. v. U.S. Department of Transportation et al.
Subject: Liquefied natural gas by rail
Date Filed: 8/19/20
Leading State(s): New York, Maryland
Joining States: California, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, District of Columbia

Overview

On Aug. 19, 2020, Washington joined a coalition of 15 attorneys general to file a lawsuit challenging a new Trump Administration rule that authorizes nationwide transportation of liquefied natural gas in rail tank cars. This rule would allow liquefied natural gas to be transported on Washington’s railroads for the first time. The rule jeopardizes public health and safety by increasing the risk of catastrophic rail accidents and increased greenhouse gas emissions. Liquefied natural gas is a fossil fuel composed of 85 to 90 percent methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Accidents involving a liquefied natural gas spill can create a violent explosion or a large fire that is difficult to put out and must be left to burn off completely.

 

California et al. v. Wheeler
Subject: Methane emissions (policy amendments)
Date Filed: 9/14/20
Leading State(s): California
Joining States: Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine,  Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, District of Columbia; City of Chicago, city and county of Denver, California Air Resources Board, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment  

Overview

On Sept. 14, 2020, Washington and a coalition of states and municipalities filed a petition for review challenging a set of rules gutting standards that limit emissions of methane, volatile organic compounds, and other hazardous pollutants from new, reconstructed, and modified facilities in the oil and natural gas industry. Methane is a super-pollutant up to 87 times more potent than carbon dioxide in its ability to trap heat over a 20-year timeframe. According to the EPA’s own estimates, the rollback of these standards will increase emissions of methane by 850,000 tons between 2021 and 2030 – or 19,000,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent – accelerating the impacts of climate change and threatening public health, particularly to children, older adults, and those suffering from chronic lung disease and asthma.

This petition for review was filed for the rule’s policy amendments. A separate, second petition for review was filed for the rule’s technical amendments. On Feb. 12, 2021, the court granted EPA's request to put the case in abeyance.

 

California et al. v. Wheeler
Subject: Methane emissions (technical amendments)
Date Filed: 9/15/20
Leading State(s): California
Joining States: Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine,  Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, District of Columbia; City of Chicago, city and county of Denver, California Air Resources Board, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment  

Overview

On Sept. 15, 2020, Washington and a coalition of states and municipalities filed a petition for review challenging a set of rules gutting standards that limit emissions of methane, volatile organic compounds, and other hazardous pollutants from new, reconstructed, and modified facilities in the oil and natural gas industry. Methane is a super-pollutant up to 87 times more potent than carbon dioxide in its ability to trap heat over a 20-year timeframe. According to the EPA’s own estimates, the rollback of these standards will increase emissions of methane by 850,000 tons between 2021 and 2030 – or 19,000,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent – accelerating the impacts of climate change and threatening public health, particularly to children, older adults, and those suffering from chronic lung disease and asthma. On Feb. 22, 2021, the court granted EPA's request to put the case in abeyance.

This petition for review was filed for the rule’s technical amendments. A separate, second petition for review was filed for the rule’s policy amendments.

 

New York et al. v. Wheeler et al.
Subject: Chemical Disaster Rule
Date Filed: 11/3/20
Leading State(s): New York, Washington, D.C.
Joining States: Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin; City of Philadelphia, Harris County 

Overview

On Nov. 3, 2020, Washington joined 16 other attorneys general to petition the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to review the Environmental Protection Agency’s denial of the states’ petition for reconsideration of its final rule, “Accidental Release Prevention Requirements: Risk Management Programs Under the Clean Air Act.” The rule rolls back several key safety provisions of the so-called chemical disaster rule from 2017, which was prompted by the 2010 Tesoro refinery explosion in Anacortes and other high-profile accidents across the nation. The Trump administration’s new rule removes provisions that require third-party investigations of explosions or other disasters, increased supervisor training and the release of chemical hazard information to the public, among other revisions. The court has put the case in abeyance.

 

New York et al. v. Brouillette
Subject: Energy efficiency standards
Date Filed: 11/9/20
Leading State(s): New York
Joining States: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, District of Columbia; City of New York

Overview

On Nov. 9, 2020, Washington joined 14 other attorneys general to file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York over the federal government’s failure to meet statutory deadlines for reviewing and updating energy efficiency standards for 25 product categories. Those products include consumer and commercial refrigerators and freezers, water heaters, clothes washers and dryers, oil and gas furnaces, microwave ovens and more.

 

California et al. v. Department of Energy
Subject: Energy efficiency standards for dishwashers
Date Filed: 12/29/20
Leading State(s): California
Joining States: Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont and the District of Columbia; City of New York

Overview

On Dec. 29, 2020, Washington joined 14 other attorneys general and the City of New York to challenge a new Department of Energy rule undermining energy efficiency standards for residential dishwashers. The rule unjustifiably exempts a class of dishwashers from energy efficiency standards by creating a new, unnecessary category of dishwashers defined only by shorter cycle times. The states contend the rule violates the Energy Policy Conservation Act, the Administrative Procedure Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. On Feb. 10, 2021, the court granted DOE's request to put the case in abeyance.

 

California et al. v. Environmental Protecton Agency
Subject: Particulate Matter National Ambient Air Quality Standards
Date Filed: 1/13/21
Leading State(s): California
Joining States: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin; City of New York

Overview

On Jan. 13, 2021, Washington joined a coalition of 17 attorneys general and the City of New York in filing a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s decision to leave current National Ambient Air Quality Standards for particulate matter pollution unchanged. Particulate matter is a pollutant emitted from a variety of sources, including vehicles, factories and construction sites. Particulate matter exposure at the current standards causes up to 45,000 deaths per year nationwide and disproportionately impacts the most vulnerable populations. In addition, particulate matter is linked to increased mortality from COVID-19 and many serious public health problems including cardiovascular disease, respiratory impacts, and cancer. Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA is required to periodically review the standards and revise them if new information shows that the existing standards are inadequate. Since the EPA’s last review in 2012, new studies have made clear that exposure to particulate matter causes grievous health impacts, even at levels below the current standards. The EPA’s own staff concurred on these conclusions. Despite this, the EPA decided to retain the current standards. On Feb. 17, 2021, the court granted EPA's request to hold the case in abeyance for 90 days.

 

California et al. v. Environmental Protecton Agency et al.
Subject: Aircraft Greenhouse Gas Standards
Date Filed: 1/15/21
Leading State(s): California
Joining States: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin; City of New York

Overview

On Jan. 15, 2021, Washington joined 16 attorneys general to file a lawsuit challenging a Trump Administration rule that sets inadequate greenhouse gas emissions standards for aircraft. Instead of adopting standards that aim to reduce aircraft emissions, the Environmental Protection Agency’s standards simply enshrine already-established and implemented technology, contrary to the requirements of the Clean Air Act. EPA’s own analysis, the rule will result in zero greenhouse gas reductions. The court granted EPA's request to hold the case in abeyance.

 

New York et al. v. U.S. Department of the Interior
Subject: Migratory Bird Treaty Act rules
Date Filed: 1/19/21
Leading State(s): New York
Joining States: California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington

Overview

On Jan. 19, 2021, Washington joined 11 attorneys general to file a lawsuit challenging a Trump Administration rule that severely narrows the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which for nearly four decades has prohibited taking or killing migratory birds “at any time, by any means or in any manner.” The new rule unlawfully interprets the act to only apply to conduct “directed at” birds, thus allowing incidental killing of migratory birds.

 

California et al. v. Bernhardt
Subject: Endangered Species Act habitat rules
Date Filed: 1/19/21
Leading State(s): Massachusetts, California
Joining States: Maryland, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin; City Of New York

Overview

On Jan. 19, 2021, Washington joined 17 attorneys general to file a lawsuit challenging two final rules by the Trump Administration that are expected to drastically reduce the amount of habitat that can be protected using the federal Endangered Species Act. The coalition argues that the rules, hastily finalized by the Trump Administration in its waning days, violate the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.

 

New York et al. v. EPA et al.
Subject: EPA “science transparency” rule
Date Filed: 1/19/21
Leading State(s): New York
Joining States: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin; King County, Wash.; cities of Chicago, Los Angeles and New York

Overview

On Jan. 19, 2021, Washington joined 17 attorneys general, three cities and King County to file a lawsuit challenging a rule that directs EPA to give less weight to scientific studies, models, or other information in its regulatory decision-making unless the underlying data is publicly available. The states and scientists argue that existing, well-established peer review mechanisms already ensure that underlying research data are scientifically sound, and that the public availability of such data has no bearing on the validity of scientific studies. By restricting the use of this fundamental science, the rule poses a threat to the credibility of regulatory science, in direct conflict with EPA’s core mission of protecting human health and the environment. 

On Feb. 1, 2020, in a separate case also challenging the EPA’s rule, a federal court in the District of Montana vacated the rule. On Feb. 25, 2021, the court stayed the case for 60 days.

FINAL RESOLUTION: On June 2, 2021, the new administration published a new rule vacating the "science transparency" rule in the Federal Register. As a result, the attorneys general voluntarily dismissed their case on June 7, 2021.

 

New York et al. v. EPA 
Subject: Clean Air Act cost-benefit analysis rule
Date Filed: 1/19/21
Leading State(s): New York
Joining States: California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, District of Columbia; City of New York

Overview

On Jan. 19, 2021, Washington joined a coalition of attorneys general to file a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s rule that weakens the standards for conducting cost benefit analyses of rulemakings under the federal Clean Air Act. The rule would likely lead to a weakening of EPA’s Clean Air Act standards by discounting public benefits and inflating costs. The lawsuit argues the rule is too vague to allow for meaningful public participation. The lawsuit asserts that the rule violates the Clean Air Act. On Feb. 23, 2021, the court granted EPA's request to put the case in abeyance for 90 days.

 

New York et al. v. EPA 
Subject: Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards
Date Filed: 1/19/21
Leading State(s): New York
Joining States: California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Washington, D.C.; City of New York

Overview

On Jan. 19, 2021, Washington joined 16 attorneys general to file a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s decision to leave current National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ground-level ozone pollution unchanged, despite abundant scientific evidence that a more protective standard is needed to protect sensitive population groups. Multiple epidemiological studies and reviews by health and environmental agencies have found that ozone exposure is connected to decreased pulmonary function, aggravation of existing pulmonary conditions like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and increased mortality. The EPA administrator is statutorily required to review all NAAQS every five years. Despite new data and scientific research demonstrating that they should be strengthened beyond their 2015 levels, EPA finalized a rule that retains the primary and secondary NAAQS from five years ago. On Feb. 22, 2021, the court granted EPA's request to put the case in abeyance for 90 days.

 

California et al. v. EPA 
Subject: Clean Air Act “Once In, Always In” Rule
Date Filed: 1/19/21
Leading State(s): California
Joining States: Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin; cities of Chicago and New York

Overview

On Jan. 19, 2021, Washington joined 12 attorneys general to file a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s final rule allowing major sources of toxic air pollutants — such as petroleum refineries and chemical plants — to escape key federal air pollution regulations whenever they can keep their emissions below 10 tons per year. This change allows currently regulated sources to both increase their emissions up to the threshold and avoid monitoring and reporting requirements. The final rule formally replaces the EPA’s longstanding “Once In, Always In” policy. Since 1995, that policy had required major sources of toxic air pollutants to permanently take action to reduce their emissions. The coalition asserts that the rule violates the Clean Air Act. On Feb. 17, 2021, the EPA filed a motion to put the case into indefinite abeyance.

 

New Jersey et al. v. EPA 
Subject: “Netting” emissions rule
Date Filed: 1/19/21
Leading State(s): New Jersey
Joining States: Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, Washington, D.C.

Overview

On Jan. 19, 2021, Washington joined seven attorneys general to file a lawsuit challenging an EPA rule that allows upgrades at large air pollution sources to evade permitting requirements by allowing sources to use creative “netting” calculations to cherry-pick emissions decreases in other areas to offset a particular project without including emissions increases. The rule allows large sources of air pollution — such as power plants, refineries and large industrial facilities — to make modifications to their facilities without submitting to stringent permit requirements, even though their modifications may actually cause significant increases air pollution. The court granted EPA's request that the case be put into a six-month abeyance.

 

California et al. v. U.S. Department of Energy 
Subject: Clothes washer & dryer efficiency standards
Date Filed: 1/19/21
Leading State(s): California
Joining States: Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, District of Columbia; City of New York

Overview

On Jan. 19, 2021, Washington joined 14 attorneys general to file a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s final rule creating new, unnecessary classes of clothes washers and dryers based on cycle time. The rule, which purports to create new product classes but assigns no energy efficiency standards at all, builds on the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) ongoing effort under the Trump Administration to undermine the energy efficiency program by allowing carve-outs that eviscerate existing standards. The coalition argues that the rule violates the Energy Policy Conservation Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act.

 

New York et al. v. U.S. Department of Energy 
Subject: Energy efficiency testing procedure - “interim waiver” process
Date Filed: 1/19/21
Leading State(s): New York
Joining States: California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington, District of Columbia; City of New York

Overview

On Jan. 19, 2021, Washington joined a coalition of attorneys general to file a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s final rule amending its “interim waiver” process for test procedures used to measure the energy efficiency of consumer products and commercial or industrial equipment. The U.S. Department of Energy’s new “interim waiver” rule effectively allows a product manufacturer to sell products that don’t comply with energy efficiency requirements for at least half a year, and perhaps indefinitely. Under the new rule, a product manufacturer’s request for a testing waiver — even one that lacks legitimate basis — will be “deemed granted” unless DOE responds within 45 days. The coalition asserts the rule violates the Energy Policy and Conservation Act.

 

New York et al. v. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Subject: Vehicle fuel economy standards penalty
Date Filed: 2/16/21
Leading State(s): New York, California
Joining States: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington

Overview

On Feb. 16, 2021, Washington joined 14 other attorneys general seeking review from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on the Trump Administration’s last-minute regulation to reduce penalties for automakers that fail to meet corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards. The new rule attempts to repeal a rule adopted under the Obama Administration which imposed an inflation-adjusted penalty of $14 for every tenth of a mile-per-gallon that an automaker falls below the CAFE standards, reducing the penalty by more than half to $5.50 per tenth of a mile-per-gallon. This is the second time the administration tried to implement this penalty reduction. Washington and 12 other attorneys general successfully challenged a similar rule in 2019. On Aug. 31, 2020, a panel with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals vacated that rule.

 

New York et al. v. U.S. Department of Energy
Subject: Energy conservation standards for gas furnaces & water heaters
Date Filed: 3/16/21
Leading State(s): New York
Joining States: California, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia; City of New York

Overview

On March 16, 2021, Washington joined 11 other attorneys general and the City of New York to file a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit challenging two Trump Administration “midnight” rules that undermine strong national energy conservation standards for residential gas furnaces and commercial gas water heaters — standards that the federal government itself projects will dramatically cut climate change pollution and save consumers tens of billions of dollars. The rules subvert energy efficiency and climate change goals by “grandfathering” inefficient technologies and designs, and further delay the adoption of updated energy efficiency standards for furnaces and water heaters.

 

Cases Lost - Appealed or Could Be Appealed

None

 

 

Cases Lost - Completed

New York et al. v. Trump et al.
Subject: Misuse of 2020 Census data for Congressional apportionment
Date Filed: 7/24/20
Leading State(s): New York
Joining States: Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, District of Columbia; cities of Seattle, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Central Falls and Providence, R.I., Columbus, Ohio, Phoenix, Ariz., and the city and county of San Francisco; Cameron, El Paso and Hidalgo counties in Texas, Monterey County in California.

Overview

On July 24, 2020, Washington joined a coalition of 21 attorneys general, 10 cities, including Seattle, and five counties to file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York challenging a presidential memorandum declaring President Donald Trump’s intent to exclude undocumented immigrants for the purposes of apportioning Congressional seats to the states. The apportionment, which is based on Census results, is required by the Fourteenth Amendment, which clearly states that “Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State …” The lawsuit asserts that the framers of the Fourteenth Amendment deliberately chose the phrase “whole number of persons” to refer to all persons living in each state — including the entire immigrant population. The president’s action could lead to the loss of state congressional seats and presidential electors in the Electoral College, skew state electoral districts, reduce federal funds to state and local jurisdictions and degrade the quality of census data that states and local jurisdictions rely on to perform critical governmental functions.

On Sept. 10, 2020, a panel of federal judges unanimously declared unlawful President Trump’s attempt to exclude undocumented immigrants from the census count for the purposes of congressional apportionment. 

FINAL RESOLUTION: On Dec. 18, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated the district court’s decision, ruling that the states’ claims were not yet ripe for adjudication. The Supreme Court expressed no view on the merits of the case, and the states are prepared to refile if the administration attempts to exclude undocumented immigrants when it finalizes the census count.

 

New York et al. v. Department of Justice
Subject: Law enforcement grants
Date Filed: 7/18/18
Leading State(s): New York
Joining States: Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Virginia, and Washington

Overview

On July 18, 2018, Washington and five other states filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York challenging the Department of Justice’s decision to restrict certain law enforcement grant funds only to those jurisdictions that assist the federal government with its civil immigration priorities. The government’s decision to condition the funds on whether states and localities provide access and information to federal immigration enforcement authorities jeopardizes nearly $3.3 million awarded to Washington state through the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program. The case is currently pending in federal court.

On Nov. 30, 2018, U.S. District Court Judge Edgardo Ramos granted the states' motion for partial summary judgment, ruling that the Department of Justice's conditions on the grants were unlawful, and enjoined the department from imposing the conditions for the grants. The Department of Justice appealed the ruling to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.

FINAL RESOLUTION: On Feb. 26, 2020, a three-judge panel overturned the District Court’s partial summary judgment ruling, and ordered the District Court to enter a ruling in favor of the defendants. On Dec. 7, 2020, the states filed a petition for review with the U.S. Supreme Court, but after the new administration took office, the states and the federal government jointly petitioned the Supreme Court to dismiss the petition for review. After the new administration announced a reversal of this policy, the states dismissed thier case on May 3, 2021.