Environmentalists Flood The Courts With Lawsuits To Stop Trump’s Agenda

REUTERS/Mike Theiler

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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At least eighteen environmental groups filed four lawsuits in one day against the Trump administration, including suits to keep in place Obama-era environmental policies.

Environmentalists filed their suit Wednesday. They are living up to threats made after President Donald Trump took office — namely, to use the courts to preserve Obama administration policies. These include orders that stop offshore drilling and force the closure of coal plants.

The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) led eight other groups in a legal challenge of Trump’s recent executive order to reopen large swaths of Arctic seas to offshore drilling. LCV is one of the many environmental groups that endorsed Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election.

“Never in LCV’s history have we taken this step,” Gene Karpinski, LCV’s president, said in a statement. “The permanent protections President Obama established for the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans were won with years of research, lobbying and organizing.”

The suit argues Obama used his authority Section 12(a) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to put most Arctic waters off-limits to development. The act does not allow future presidents to undo placing waters off-limits, activists argue.

The same day, Earthjustice and the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) filed suits to challenge the administration. Earthjustice sued to stop the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to indefinitely stay the implementation of wastewater discharge rules for coal plants.

CBD filed suit against EPA for not finalizing deadlines for the cities of Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia to meet ozone standards. CBD also sued for Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt’s emails and schedule. Earthjustice and CBD joined LCV’s suit against Trump’s EPA.

So far, CBD has filed 15 lawsuits against the administration, something which the activist group publicly brags about.

CBD famously sued the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to stop the construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. CBD wants the court to force DHS to conduct a “programmatic environmental impact statement” on border enforcement operations.

Trump can expect more lawsuits as he continues to rollback Obama-era policies. Environmentalists spent years lobbying and campaigning to get such policies in place.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), for example, played a pivotal role in crafting the Clean Power Plan, which became Obama’s signature global warming policy.

But Trump ordered EPA to review the Clean Power Plan, asking the agency to see if it needed to be modified or rescinded. NRDC and other environmental groups were already locked in legal battles to keep the power plant rule from being overturned.

NRDC has filed its fair share of lawsuits against Trump as well.

They filed two lawsuits against the administration in February to keep the EPA from withdrawing a mercury rule and to oppose an executive order requiring agencies to repeal two regulations for every new one imposed.

In March, NRDC and other environmentalists sued to block the Keystone XL oil pipeline from being built. They also tried to intervene in a lawsuit against a national ocean monument Obama created.

The group filed at least two lawsuits in April challenging Trump’s delaying energy efficiency standards for appliances and the administration’s refusal to ban certain pesticides. NRDC attorneys are also representing LCV and others in the suit to keep Arctic waters off-limits to drilling.

“Were President Trump able to get away with this, the country would lose an important tool for protecting its vital interest in clean and vibrant oceans and coasts,” Niel Lawrence, NRDC’s Alaska director, told Bloomberg.

“By now it’s clear there is no legitimate public interest in further expanding risk to our oceans in pursuit of fossil fuels that we don’t need,” Lawrence said.

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