Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Oct 17 2019

The Ferguson File - A monthly e-newsletter from Attorney General Bob Ferguson

Dear Friends,

headshot of AG FergusonWe remain committed to defending the rule of law from the Trump Administration. We recently filed our 50th lawsuit against the Trump Administration over its unlawful rollbacks of the Endangered Species Act. My office remains undefeated in our efforts to hold the federal government accountable to the rule of law.

We also challenged the Trump Administration’s effort to take away states’ authority to enact stricter vehicle emission standards to combat climate change, and President Trump’s reallocation of congressional funds to build his border wall.

But that’s hardly all we’ve been up to.

For example, in September we fought for refunds for customers affected by Avista’s unlawful electric and gas rates. We also convened our new Hate Crime Working Group in order to improve the state’s response to hate crimes and protect the civil rights of Washingtonians.

In this issue:

Thank you for following the work of the Attorney General’s Office.

Sincerely,

AG Ferguson signature

Bob Ferguson
Washington State Attorney General


Press conference announcing lawsuit regarding endangered species act

50th lawsuit against the Trump Administration

In our latest environmental lawsuit, I challenged new Trump Administration rules that illegally and arbitrarily weaken essential protections in the Endangered Species Act.

Additionally, any endangered species that may recover enough to be down-listed to threatened status would lose automatic, blanket protections prohibiting actions that harm them.

The Endangered Species Act is a cornerstone of national conservation law critical to our state’s effort to save species like the southern resident orca. Nearly every species afforded protections under the Endangered Species Act, including 49 species in Washington, have been saved from extinction.  

This marks the 50th lawsuit filed by my office against unlawful actions by the Trump Administration.

This administration has shown over and over that it will stop at nothing to slash regulations at the whim of industry interests, even if it means putting our shared ecosystem at risk. More than half our 24 legal victories against the Administration relate to environmental issues. Every time a court has ruled on one of our environmental cases, we’ve won. I expect this lawsuit will be no different.

You can watch our press conference on the case here.

For more information on the status of each lawsuit, visit our federal litigation page.

 

The News Tribune
Washington state joins fight against changes to the Endangered Species Act

My Northwest
Washington AG files ‘golden’ lawsuit against Trump administration

KUOW
Washington state sues Trump over endangered species

 


 

Line of cars stopped on road

Our climate, our vehicle emission standards

I filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s attempt to block Washington’s and other states’ ability to set more stringent vehicle emission standards.   

For more than five decades, the Clean Air Act has allowed California to set stricter greenhouse gas emission standards for vehicles sold within state lines. It also allowed other states to adopt California’s standards. Washington, 11 other states and the District of Columbia adopted the more stringent standards.

The Trump Administration’s action would prohibit states from following any standards other than those set by the federal government.

Our state is already witnessing the devastating effects of climate change, and adopting anti-environmental policies will only make it worse. I will not stand by while the Trump Administration’s actions put Washingtonians in danger.

It’s time the Trump Administration stops denying the truth — climate change is real. 

 

Seattle Weekly
AG Ferguson sues EPA over vehicle emission standards

The Seattle Times
Washington to join California in fighting Trump administration’s attack on state vehicle-emission rules

KOMO News
Washington lawmakers, environmental groups criticize Trump’s car emissions rule


AG ferguson speaking to reporters after press conference

Checks, balances and misappropriations for a border wall

Our nation’s founders enshrined our system of checks and balances in our Constitution. I will not allow President Trump’s actions to undermine that system by “reprograming” more than $3.6 billion in congressionally approved military construction projects to help build a wall along the U.S. southern border with Mexico.

In September — seven months after declaring an “emergency” at the border — the Trump Administration identified specific military construction projects it is targeting to pay for wall construction along the southern border. It announced $89 million in funding for projects at the Bangor submarine base on the Kitsap Peninsula.

I filed a lawsuit seeking to block this plan and protect the funding Congress already approved for Bangor.

Washington’s Bangor submarine base is home to the U.S. Pacific Fleet of Trident ballistic missile submarines. President Trump’s border wall executive order diverts funds Congress appropriated to build a much-needed new pier and maintenance facility.

The Department of Defense asserted in writing that the Bangor pier project is important to sailors and their families. According the Department of Defense, for example, when there is no space at the existing pier, sailors are subject to “extensive berth shifts and unnecessary days spent away from homeport.”

President Trump’s misuse of his presidential emergency powers to accomplish an ideological political goal is an egregious abuse of power that should concern all Americans. My office will not allow Washingtonians and our military to suffer because of these illegal actions.

We’ve already succeeded in protecting the $89 million until we have our day in court. The federal judge entered an order prohibiting the Trump Administration from grabbing those funds meant for Washington state until February. We look forward to continuing to protect this important military funding.

Watch the press conference here.

 

The Bainbridge Review
AG Ferguson sues to block diversion of billions for border wall

KING-5 News
Washington AG sues President Trump for using Bangor military project funds to build border wall

Seattle PI
Washington state sues Trump: Don’t divert defense dollars to build your border wall


 

Bills and checks with calculator on top

Seeking $41 million in refunds to Avista Corp. customers

This September, I once again stood up for Washingtonians by urging the state Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) to require Avista Corp. to refund customers up to $41 million after we successfully argued that a proposed rate increase violated state law.

Avista, a Spokane-based utility, serves approximately 253,800 electric customers and 167,000 natural gas customers in Eastern Washington.

Avista charged its customers based on projected growth — violating state law which requires all rates for utility property to be “used and useful.” The utility also incorrectly calculated the rate, failing to reflect updated lower power costs, which added about $21 million to Avista’s rates during the two-year period the rates were in effect.

My office’s Public Counsel Unit filed written testimony urging the UTC to act. Avista overcharged Washingtonians by millions of dollars — it’s time they made it right.

Members of the public may submit written comments to the UTC, P.O. Box 47250, Olympia, WA, 98504, or email comments@utc.wa.gov. Include your name and mailing address, the name of the company (Avista), and docket no. UE 150204 / UG 150205 (electric and gas).

More information is available in our news release here.

 

The Spokesman-Review
Washington attorney general, regulators demand Avista refund customers more than $41 million

Inlander
AG Ferguson wants Avista to refund $41 million to customers

KXLY.com
Washington Attorney General says Avista owes customers $41 million


 

Two people comforting each other

Launching new Hate Crimes Working Group

I am proud to announce the new Multidisciplinary Hate Crime Advisory Working Group, which held its first meeting this month. You can read this month’s agenda and more information here.

Working closely with Representative Javier Valdez, D-Seattle, we asked the Legislature for authority to convene this working group with the goal of developing strategies to raise awareness of hate crimes and enhance law enforcement and the public’s responses to hate crimes and incidents.

The Hate Crimes Working Group demonstrates our state’s commitment to the safety of all Washingtonians, regardless of their gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, religion or disability.

More than 700 hate crimes were reported in 2018. All of the victims were targeted for one of these characteristics.

We will be taking a hard look at what kind of hate crimes are happening in Washington and how we can strengthen our response and support victims.

 

Kitsap Daily News
AG Ferguson launches Hate Crime Working Group

KIRO-7
Video: State AG launches effort to reduce hate crimes


 

 

AG ferguson sitting at event

Working across Washington

As a father of twins, I am personally angered by the separation of children from their parents at the border. My office has heard shocking and heartbreaking accounts from these children of what they endured at American facilities at the border. This July, I met with several groups to discuss the importance of protecting marginalized and vulnerable communities within our state. I spoke at the Center for Children & Youth Justice conference about the work my office is doing to combat the Administration’s illegal actions at the border, and to recognize the important work of the Center on behalf of tens of thousands of Washington children.

I also attended the 9th Annual Northwest Justice Project meeting where we discussed how important it is to listen to vulnerable communities. The Northwest Justice Project provides civil legal assistance and representation to thousands of low-income individuals. The work they do is invaluable.

I joined the Skyline Civic Engagement Group as they discussed the closing of a Seattle-area nursing home, called Keiro Northwest, which is the city’s oldest and largest Asian American senior living facility. We discussed the impact of this, as well as some of the many cases my office has filed that have touched on protections for tenants and homebuyers in Washington state.

Lastly, in television and radio spots with KOMO News and AARP, I outline how to avoid scam robocalls. Tips from my office, as well as the Federal Trade Commission and AARP, will appear on KOMO in the future.

 

KOMO News
Anyone can become a scam victim

The Seattle Times
How to avoid falling victim to scam calls

 

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