California’s attorney general is waging war against Trump. These are the battlefronts

California has become a flag bearer in the nationwide resistance to Trump administration policies on immigration, the environment, regulation, government ethics and healthcare policy. The state has filed dozens of lawsuits challenging Trump policies and initiatives, added its voice to the resistance via friend-of-the-court briefs in many other cases, enacted legislation to protect interests its leaders feel have been abandoned by Trump, and implemented administrative policies to protect what Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra calls “California values.” Here’s a list of many of the most important legal steps Becerra has taken, often in conjunction with other states.

Environment & public lands


Immigration & civil rights

Education & consumer protections

Environment and public lands

March 31, 2017

Energy-efficiency standards

The lawsuit, brought by California's attorney general and eight other state attorneys general, challenged the Department of Energy's delay in issuing its conservation standard for ceiling fans. Read more

Result: The Department of Energy reversed itself and let the standard go into effect in September 2017.

April 7, 2017

Conflicts of interest

California made 32 separate requests under the Freedom of Information Act for documents related to possible conflicts of interest for then-Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, and sued when the EPA withheld the documents. Read more

Result: The EPA produced the documents nine months after the lawsuit was filed.

Winner: California

April 27, 2017

Taxpayer royalties for oil, coal and gas

California and New Mexico sued to stop Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke from repealing Obama-era regulations on the royalties that oil, coal and gas companies pay for production on federal lands. At stake in the repeal is a portion of the $82.5 million received by California in royalties and the $470 million received by New Mexico per year. Read more

Result: Case is pending

May. 10, 2017

Coal leasing on public land

The lawsuit challenges Interior's decision to restart coal leasing on public lands while cutting short an environmental review of the program. Read more

Result: Case is pending

June 13, 2017

Energy-efficiency standards

California joined with eight other states to force the Department of Energy to publish energy standards for portable air conditioners and four other products. Read more

Result: In February, a federal judge ordered the Energy Department to put the standards into effect.

Winner: California

July 5, 2017

Waste Prevention Rule

California joined with 15 other states to force Interior to implement a rule limiting the release of methane from oil and gas operations on public and tribal lands. Read more

Result: Case is pending

Aug. 1, 2017

Ozone-reduction standards

California joined with several other states to force the EPA to impose clean air standards, which EPA wanted to delay for a year. Read more

Result: A federal judged ordered the standards to go into effect in April.

Winner: California

Aug. 11, 2017

Scott Pruitt

California sued the EPA after the agency failed to produce the required documents detailed in a Freedom of Information Act request filed in April 2017. Read more

Result: The EPA released over 24,000 pages of documents requested by another Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the Sierra Club.

Winner: California

Sep. 11, 2017

Transportation fuel-efficiency standards

California blocked an attempt by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to delay penalties for automakers who fail to meet fuel-efficiency standards. Read more

Result: In April, a federal judge ordered the standards to be put into effect immediately.

Winner: California

Sep. 20, 2017

Greenhouse gas emissions on highways

California joined seven other states to force the Federal Highway Administration to implement rules setting standards for greenhouse gas emissions on highways. Read more

Result: Trump administration announced it would issue the standards a week after the lawsuit was filed.

Winner: California

Jan. 24, 2018

Fracking regulations

California sued to challenge the Bureau of Land Management’s repeal of regulations governing fracking on federal and Native American tribal lands. Read more

Result: Case is pending

Feb. 6, 2018

Suspension of the Clean Water Rule

California joined 10 other states to block the EPA from delaying a 2015 clean water regulation covering rivers and streams and shrinking the definition of waterways subject to the rule. The change would have heightened impact in California. Read more

Result: Case is pending

April 5, 2018

Methane emmisions

Filed suit along with 15 other Attorneys General against the EPA for failing to reduce methane emissions from existing oil and natural gas operations, as required under federal law. Read more

Result: The suit is awaiting a ruling.

April 10, 2018

Air pollution policy repeal

California sued to block the EPA from repealing the 1995 “once in, always in” rule, which requires air polluters such as oil refineries and chemical plants to take action to permanently reduce emissions. Rescinding the rule would allow polluters to game goverment regulations, the state says. Read more

Result: Case is pending

May. 1, 2018

National vehicle emmision standards

California led a coalition of 17 states and the District of Columbia to block the EPA from scrapping the nation's single vehicle emission standard, which is set to go into effect in 2022. Read more

Result: Case is pending

May. 30, 2018

Pesticide safety

California sued to prevent the EPA from suspending the Worker Protection Standard, which requires safety training for agricultural workers handling dangerous pesticides. Read more

Result: The EPA backed down two weeks after the lawsuit was filed, announcing it would implement the standard after all.

Winner: California

May. 31, 2018

Air pollution from landfills

California led eight other states in a lawsuit to force the EPA to enforce limits of the greenhouse gas methane at landfills under a 2016 rule. Landfills are the third-largest source of methane. Read more

Result: Case is pending


May. 18, 2017

Affordable Care Act

California led a coalition of 19 states to protect cost-sharing reduction reimbursments to insurers that the Trump administration ended. Read more

Result: Case is pending

Oct. 6, 2017

Access to affordable birth control

California led a court attack against a Trump administration policy allowing employers to refuse to cover birth control. Read more

Result: Preliminary injunction is granted to block the Trump policy. The case is now in appeals court.

April 9, 2018

Texas, et al.

California, with 15 other states, fights a Texas lawsuit that aims to invalidate the Affordable Care Act. California stepped in to defend the law after the Trump administration withdrew and claimed that the ACA is unconstitutional. Read more

Result: Case is pending, but California was allowed to join the suit

Immigration and Civil Rights

March 13, 2017

Muslim travel ban

California fought Trump's Muslim travel ban in several courts and at several judicial levels, including via a "friend-of-the-court" brief in support of a lawsuit by the state of Hawaii aimed at stopping the travel ban. Read more

Result: The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling, upheld the travel ban on June 26

June 29, 2017

Immigration enforcement practices

California filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Department of Homeland Security for details on an array of immigration enforcement practices. It sued to force DHS to provide the documents. Read more

Result: Case is pending

Aug. 14, 2017

Sanctuary jurisdictions

California sued to block administration efforts to require state and local immigration enforcement as a condition of receiving federal grants for law enforcement. Read more

Result: Case is pending

Sep. 11, 2017


California sued the Trump administration over its decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and obtained an injunction blocking the move. Read more

Result: A federal judge granted a temporary injunction; case is pending.

Sep. 20, 2017

The U.S.-Mexico border wall

California sued to challenge construction of a border wall in San Diego and Imperial Counties. Read more

Result: A judge ruled the projects can proceed. California is appealing the decision.

March 27, 2018

2020 Census

California sued to challenge the Trump administration’s attempt to add a question about U.S. citizenship. Read more

Result: Case is pending, though a New York federal judge has cleared that state's lawsuit to move ahead

June 26, 2018

Child separation at the U.S. border

California filed suit as part of a coalition of 18 attorneys general challenging the separation of families at the U.S. border. Read more

Result: A California judge ordered all families to be reunited within 30 days in response to a separate lawsuit filed by the ACLU. The states' case is pending.

Education and consumer protections

June 14, 2017

Borrower Defense Rule

California filed a motion to defend the loan-forgiveness process for students defrauded by their schools after the Department of Education announced plans to overhaul the rule. The department eventually cut back forgiveness. Read more

Result: Case is pending

Jan. 16, 2018

Net neutrality

California filed suit against the Federal Communications Commission challenging its attempt to repeal net neutrality rules. Read more

Result: Petition to block FCC action was rejected, state Legislature is moving to impose statewide net neutrality rules

Winner: California

Credits: Patrick McGreevey also contributed reporting.