What's at Stake
Trump’s order would effectively block government agencies from issuing new health, consumer or workplace safeguards unless they repeal existing ones. It also would ignore lives saved, productivity gained and suffering relieved by government safeguards.
On Feb. 8, Public Citizen, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Communications Workers of America represented by Earthjustice sued the Trump administration to block an executive order signed by President Donald Trump on Jan. 30 that directs federal agencies to repeal two federal regulations for every new rule they issue.
The plaintiffs are asking the court to issue a declaration that the order cannot be lawfully implemented and bar the agencies from implementing the order.
Trump’s executive order would effectively block government agencies from issuing new health, consumer or workplace safeguards unless they repeal existing ones. Scientists and public health experts at agencies like the EPA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Food and Drug Administration could be forced to choose among vital protections.
The executive order also requires new rules to have a net cost of $0 this fiscal year, without taking into account the value of the benefits of public health protections. Any public health benefits—and accompanying economic gains—do not figure into this calculation. According to this line of thinking, fewer missed days of work, healthier kids and thousands of lives saved due to fewer heart attacks are not worth anything.
The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, names as defendants the president, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the current or acting secretaries and directors of more than a dozen executive departments and agencies. The complaint alleges that the agencies cannot lawfully comply with the president’s order because doing so would violate the statutes under which the agencies operate and the Administrative Procedure Act.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are represented by lawyers at Public Citizen Litigation Group, NRDC, CWA and Earthjustice.
Patti Goldman, Managing Attorney, Earthjustice: "A new president has to deal with the record and evidence and findings. If you take climate and the endangerment finding, that is a scientific finding that is upheld by the court. That finding has legal impacts. If there's a directive along those lines, there will have to be a process."
Peter Lehner, Senior Attorney, Earthjustice: “[Trump] is effectively trying to amend a lot of statutes without going through the legislative process ... What it will do is it will make it virtually impossible, or at least very difficult, for agencies to move forward with safeguards and protections for people ... It’s actually not in the United States’ economic interest to have people die in car crashes or be sick because of what they breathe or getting harmed in their workplace.”