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Source: Washington State News

Lawsuit challenging Endangered Species Act rollbacks is latest environmental lawsuit against the Trump Administration

OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson, with the filing of the Endangered Species Act lawsuit yesterday, has now filed 50 lawsuits challenging unlawful actions taken by the Trump Administration.

The 50th lawsuit challenges Trump Administration rules that significantly undermine the Endangered Species Act, a cornerstone of national conservation law critical to Washington’s effort to save species such as the southern resident orca. Read more about this lawsuit here.

Ferguson has not yet lost a case against the Trump Administration. After more than two years of litigation, no court to rule on the merits of the Attorney General’s arguments in a lawsuit against the Trump Administration has ruled against the office.

Of the 50 lawsuits:

  • 26 — more than half — involve environmental protections (record: 13-0);
  • 11 relate to immigration (record: 4-0);
  • 7 relate to health care access (record: 2-0);
  • 2 relate to consumer protections for student borrowers (record: 1-0);
  • 1 relates to 3D-printed guns (record: 1-0);
  • 1 relates to the military transgender ban; and
  • 1 relates to net neutrality.

Answers to some frequently asked questions about the litigation are below.

How many of the 50 lawsuits is Washington leading?

Washington state is the lead plaintiff state (or co-lead) in 19 of the 50 lawsuits. Thirteen of the 21 victories are final and cannot be appealed, which means they cannot be overturned. These victories include cases involving the original travel ban, energy efficiency rules and the census citizenship question.

What is the cost to taxpayers of these 50 lawsuits?

Negligible. The Attorney General’s affirmative litigation divisions (Civil Rights Division, Consumer Protection Division, Counsel for Environmental Protection, and the affirmative section of the Complex Litigation Division) lead every case in which Washington state is the lead plaintiff, and the majority of cases in which Washington joined multistate litigation led by other states. Multistate efforts led by other states require significantly fewer resources from the Washington Attorney General’s Office. Affirmative litigation divisions have not received any taxpayer funding since January 2017. They are fully funded through recoveries in successful civil enforcement cases. Consequently, the impact to taxpayers from this federal litigation is negligible. Unlike other states, the Legislature has never appropriated funds for this work.

At any given time, the Attorney General’s Office is handling approximately 20,000 legal matters. While these 50 lawsuits attract significant public interest, they represent a small fraction of the overall work of the office.

Where can I find more information?

Because transparency is important to the Attorney General’s Office, the office maintains an up-to-date list of all its federal litigation cases, including case summaries, case status and lead state, on its website. That list can be found here.

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The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.

Contacts:

Brionna Aho, Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; Brionna.aho@atg.wa.gov

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