Attorney General's Office Environmental Crimes
Chesapeake Bay Observation
Areas - Information and Reporting Violations
Chesapeake Ecocheck Bay Report Card
EPA Chesapeake Bay Program Find Your
NOAA Chesapeake Bay
Report an Environmental Incident to
Attorney General Frosh led a coalition of 12 state attorneys general opposing the federal government's plans to dramatically expand the scope of offshore drilling for oil and gas, including in waters off the coast of Maryland. In comments submitted to the Department of the Interior, Attorney General Frosh emphasized that our coastal waters are environmentally sensitive, and that each phase of exploration carries significant environmental risks—from the testing and drilling needed to locate deposits, to the damage done during extraction and transport of fuels, to the inevitable spills that occur. In the face of massive opposition, the Trump administration ultimately elected not to go forward with its offshore plans.
In addition, Attorney General Frosh led a coalition of nine states attorneys general intervening in a lawsuit to stop seismic testing surveys in the Atlantic Ocean. These surveys, conducted as precursors to drilling for oil and gas, would have threatened the health and life of hundreds of thousands of marine mammals due to repeated high decibel sound blasts. Facing pressure from the lawsuit, in 2020 the federal government abandoned its plans to allow the surveys. Please see press releases below:
On July 25, 2018, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service published three proposed rules to amend the Endangered Species Act's implementing regulations. Attorney General Frosh joined nine other states in commenting on those proposals, which were finalized in August 2019. In September 2019, Attorney General Frosh led a coalition of 17 other state attorneys general and the City of New York in filing a lawsuit opposing the new regulations.
Among other things, the lawsuit challenges regulatory changes that make it more difficult to designate critical habitat, allow for the introduction of economic data into the administrative record informing listing determinations, limit the consideration of climate science in determining a species likely status in the foreseeable future, eliminate recovery as a basis for delisting, allow for the piecemeal destruction of critical habitat, narrow the definition of “effects of an action" during consultation, and revoke the default protection from take for threatened species.
Attorney General Frosh has also led subsequent efforts to protect the Endangered Species Act from regulatory changes undertaken in the final months of the Trump administration that would have gutted the use of critical habitat as a conservation tool. Please see the press releases below.
In January 2019, the Maryland Board of Public Works unanimously voted to deny an easement required for the construction of a natural gas pipeline under the Western Maryland Rail Trail. Columbia Gas Transmission, owned by energy company TransCanada Corp., had requested permission to construct the pipeline.
The BPW denial prompted Columbia Gas Transmission to file a lawsuit against the State in May 2019, seeking immediate access to the property on the ground that it had obtained from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission a certificate of public convenience and necessity giving it the power of eminent domain over the property.
Attorney General Frosh moved to dismiss the suit on June 17, arguing that the 11th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prevents a federal court from ordering the State to grant the easement. In an August 2019 order, the United States District Court for the District of Maryland agreed with the State and blocked construction of the pipeline. Please see the press releases below.
Chlorpyrifos is a toxic pesticide that has adverse neurodevelopmental effects, particularly in infants and children. It is widely used, including in the production of fruits and vegetables consumed by millions of Americans. In 2017, EPA issued an order allowing continued use of chlorpyrifos on food crops, even though EPA's own scientists were unable to identify a safe level for the pesticide in food. In response, Attorney General Frosh was part of a coalition that obtained a favorable ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Nevertheless, EPA issued a final rule in July 2019 that continued to allow the use of chlorpyrifos.
Attorney General Frosh and other attorneys general again petitioned the Ninth Circuit, arguing that EPA's final rule was unlawful. Among other things, the lawsuit maintained that EPA had violated the law by allowing continued use of chlorpyrifos without concluding that any level of chlorpyrifos residue on food is safe and will not harm infants and children. In April 2020, the Ninth Circuit ruled for the states, ordering EPA to either certify that currently-allowed levels of chlorpyrifos are safe, or no longer allow chlorpyrifos to be used on food crops. Please see the press releases below.
Vehicle emissions are one of the largest sources of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants, and Attorney General Frosh is working to ensure that cars and trucks continue becoming cleaner. Attorney General Frosh joined other state attorneys general in a successful effort to block the Trump administration from suspending higher penalties on automobile manufacturers that fail to comply with federal fuel efficiency standards. He also was part of a broad multistate coalition challenging the Trump administration's decision to roll back greenhouse gas emission standards and fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks.
Similarly, Attorney General Frosh joined other states in taking on the Trump administration's attempts to revoke California's Advanced Clean Car Standards, which Maryland has adopted. Currently, Attorney General Frosh is working with other state attorneys general to push the Biden administration to reverse these regulatory rollbacks and facilitate the transition to cleaner motor vehicles. Please see press releases below:
Attorney General Frosh joined numerous other states, the District of Columbia, and some of the nation's largest cities to oppose attempts by the Trump Administration to replace the Clean Power Plan with the "Affordable Clean Energy" (ACE) rule. Adopted by the Obama EPA in 2015, the Clean Power Plan is the first nationwide effort to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from coal- and oil-fired power plants. It is a significant step towards combating the causes of climate change (which poses significant threats to Maryland)—not to mention reducing pollutants that harm our air quality and impair public health. The ACE rule, by contrast, would have done little to reduce such emissions. In a victory for our coalition of litigants, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals held that the ACE rule was unlawful because EPA had taken an improperly narrow view of its authority to regulate power plant emissions. Please see press releases below:
On April 25, 2018, the Office of the Attorney General and the Maryland Department of the Environment entered into a $33.5 million settlement agreement with Volkswagen AG and its affiliates, Audi AG and Porsche AG. The agreement settles an enforcement action brought by MDE for the auto manufacturers' use of “defeat devices" in certain models of their vehicles in violation of Maryland's air quality control laws. Specifically, the devices were installed in model year 2009-2015 diesel engines to ensure that the vehicle's emissions controls performed properly during emissions testing; in real-world driving conditions, however, the device switched off or scaled back the vehicle's emissions controls—resulting in harmful nitrogen oxide emissions. Under the terms of the agreement, Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche agreed to:
The Office of the Attorney General is representing the State in pursuing claims against petroleum manufacturers who used a chemical additive—methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE)—that has contaminated groundwater throughout Maryland. The Attorney General has assigned a group of Assistant Attorneys General to coordinate this effort, along with a team of Special Counsel who have experience representing New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Puerto Rico in similar litigation. In December 2017, the State filed suit against over 50 manufacturers and suppliers of MTBE, which the Environmental Protection Agency considers a possible carcinogen. The litigation is expected to last several years. Please see press release below:
Attorney General Frosh has worked with a coalition of attorneys general to challenge the Trump administration's attempts to weaken federal clean water protections. The Trump administration replaced the “Clean Water Rule"— a regulation that defined the scope of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act and that was designed to ensure the nation's lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands receive proper federal protection—with the far weaker "Navigable Waters Protection Rule." Attorney General Frosh joined a multistate coalition challenging the Trump administration's rule in court. In 2021, the Biden administration announced it would revisit the rule.
Separately, Attorney General Frosh led a series of multistate efforts to ensure that pollution reaching surface waters by way of groundwater can be subject to federal regulation under the Clean Water Act. Attorney General Frosh led a multistate coalition in urging EPA not to abandon its long-held position that such pollution can indeed be subject to Clean Water Act regulation. Then, in a major case considering the question, Attorney General Frosh led a multistate coalition in filing an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to reject EPA's proposed categorical exception for pollution reaching surface waters via groundwater. The attorneys general pointed out the need for a robust federal regulatory role and the importance of strong protections against degradation in the quality of the nation's waters. Ultimately, in an opinion that cited the states' brief, the Supreme Court rejected EPA's view, thus preserving Clean Water Act jurisdiction over some discharges to navigable waters via groundwater. Please see the press releases below:
200 St. Paul Place, Baltimore, MD 21202
410-576-6300 / En español 410-230-1712 / 1-888-743-0023 toll-free / TTY: Dial 7-1-1 or 800-735-2258