Washington (CNN)Democratic state attorneys general -- the same group that beat back President Donald Trump's travel ban in court -- are now turning their eyes to climate and environmental issues.
Democratic AGs set to fight Trump over climate
As Trump announced the United States' exit from the Paris climate accord, several attorneys general said Thursday they've already begun discussing strategies to battle the administration.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said he is "incredibly distressed and disturbed" by Trump's move. Connecticut's George Shapiro said environmental issues are "very, very high on that list" of issues likely to become a new, travel ban-style legal flashpoint with the Trump White House.
Maura Healey of Massachusetts vowed to "hold the line on important measures that have been put in place to protect our habitat and prevent climate change" -- as well as hundreds of thousands of clean energy jobs that Trump has "put at risk, unfortunately."
With Democrats relegated to the minority in the House and Senate, blue states with the power to challenge Trump's administration in court are now at the forefront of the Democratic anti-Trump resistance.
"Given that Congress has all but abdicated its responsibility to be a check on the administration, it falls to us," said Shapiro -- who started his job the same time Trump took office.
Democratic governors and attorneys general, in particular, have taken a leading role in opposing Trump. California Gov. Jerry Brown, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday launched the "United States Climate Alliance," a group of states that will uphold the Paris pact's terms even as Trump abandons them on the national level.
The attorneys general -- who held a roundtable discussion with a small group of reporters in Washington Thursday afternoon -- have increasingly coordinated since Trump took office.
They hold a weekly conference call, and their staffs "work incredibly well together," Shapiro said.
A series of lawsuits filed by Democratic attorneys general resulted in legal victories that eventually led to the blockage of Trump's ban on travel to the United States from a group of majority Muslim countries.
Fights over the Trump administration's moves to prohibit "sanctuary cities," and what Democratic attorneys general said they believe will be efforts to gut the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, also loom as upcoming rounds in their fight with the White House, they said.
The group has already begun battling Trump on environmental issues -- challenging his administration's moves to undercut clean power plant and fuel efficiency standard rules.
"I think we're a force to be reckoned with in this new era of both needing to uphold the law and using states and states' rights, if you will," Shapiro said.
Maine Attorney General Janet Mills said Trump's calls for domestic spending cuts have left states fretting that Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act rules won't be enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency.
"We expect that that will give us standing in the future to bring lawsuits if necessary," she said.
The attorneys general didn't discuss specific legal challenges they might launch against Trump's climate and environmental moves.
Jepsen said they are "very much in a reactive stance" -- waiting to see what moves the White House makes first.