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No one voted for dirtier air and water. But politicians in Washington, D.C., are now claiming a mandate to gut commonsense safeguards that protect our communities from harm—and in the process, are erasing the very rules that make our democracy work. Our rights are not erasable. Earthjustice is committed to defending safeguards for our health, unique public lands, workplace protections, and civil rights.

Latest Status On Environmental Attacks

Updated Mar. 30
Directs Interior Dept. to resume federal coal-leasing (and other actions)
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Agencies must identify two regulations for elimination for every new one
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Chilling effect on cases where there is often little legal precedent
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Senate Vote
Signed by President
Here’s the latest on the fight for our safeguards:
Updated Apr. 23
On Apr. 19, the EPA announced it is reopening and intends to delay key aspects of its Methane Pollution Standard. "By delaying compliance with this cost-effective rule, EPA is demonstrating that it cares more about polluters than public health," said Timothy Ballo, Staff Attorney at Earthjustice.
On Apr. 18, the EPA indicated it is considering a reversal of limits on toxic air pollution from coal-fired power plants. The EPA, in an email to attorneys involved in a court battle over the protections, announced plans to file a motion at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit asking to delay oral arguments in its defense of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards from polluters and allied states. "Overturning that rule now would be flagrantly illegal," said James Pew, Staff Attorney at Earthjustice. “The Clean Air Act required these limits to be put in place more than a decade ago. If EPA wishes to deregulate power plants, it needs to show that their emissions are safe. They are far from safe. They kill thousands of people each year.” Earthjustice plans to call on the federal court to reject EPA’s motion.
On Apr. 12, Pruitt's EPA moved to suspend the first-ever limits on toxic wastewater pollution from coal-fired power plants. "The truth is that coal-fired power plants have been operating for the better part of half a century without any obligation to clean up their toxic water pollution," said Abigail Dillen, VP of Litigation for Climate & Energy at Earthjustice. "Forget regulatory overreach. The coal industry has profited for decades from a wholesale regulatory failure. But the courts will have the last word on efforts that threaten the water we drink." (Read more.)
The EPA's request to delay court proceedings over standards to clean up smog was granted by a federal court on Apr. 12. Attorneys for public health and environmental organizations think the delay is likely an indication that the federal government will seek to stop defending or weaken implementation of the smog standards. EPA Administrator Pruitt had sued the EPA over the smog standard when he was Oklahoma's Attorney General. "Any delay will likely result in unnecessary asthma attacks and deaths. We will continue to fight to protect public health under the Clean Air Act and for the continued implementation of the more protective 2015 smog standards," said Earthjustice attorney Seth Johnson. "The EPA has no justification to weaken anything about these key pollution reduction measures. We look forward to having our day in court." (On the legal battle for these critical health protections.)
On Apr. 5, Earthjustice—part of a coalition of public health and environmental groups—filed oppositions in the D.C. Circuit to EPA’s request to delay resolution of lawsuits challenging the Clean Power Plan. The coalition will defend the Clean Power Plan and the carbon standards—even if EPA no longer wishes to do so. EPA wants to dismantle the Clean Power Plan—and is trying to put court challenges on hold while it does so. Earthjustice is pushing back in court. (Where things stand now with the Clean Power Plan.)
On Mar. 29, EPA refused to ban the neurotoxic pesticide chlorpyrifos. On Apr. 5, Earthjustice filed an appeal asking the court to order EPA to take immediate action. “EPA is refusing to ban a pesticide that harms children’s brains. It is acting contrary to the law, the science, and a court order. In a word: unconscionable,” said Patti Goldman, managing attorney at Earthjustice who is handling the case. (What you should know about chlorpyrifos.)
On Mar. 29, Earthjustice sued the Trump administration over an order opening tens of thousands of acres of public lands to the coal industry. The pause in leasing was ordered last year by former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to allow time to review and reform the federal program to ensure protection of the climate. The program has not been significantly updated since 1979. “Our legal system remains an important backstop against the abuses of power we’ve witnessed over the course of the past two months,” said Earthjustice attorney Jenny Harbine. “That’s why we’re going to court to defend our public lands, clean air and water, and a healthy climate for all.” (On the legal challenge.)
The Trump Administration released a budget blueprint on Mar. 16 that calls for dramatic cuts to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, including environmental justice programs. “The Trump budget deliberately eviscerates enforcement of our environmental laws—which would let many law-breakers operate with little fear of prosecution—and dismantles programs that support our most vulnerable communities from environmental hazards,“ said Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen. (Full statement.)
In March, the House of Representatives voted on a series of bills that would shut the courthouse door to ordinary people seeking justice in America. The bills include H.R. 720, which could have a chilling effect on Earthjustice's work and that of civil liberties groups, especially with respect to cases brought on civil rights grounds where there is often little legal precedent. H.R. 720 passed the House (230–188) on Mar. 10. (More on the bills.)
Earthjustice filed a lawsuit on Feb. 8 to strike down President Trump’s “False Choices” Executive Order as an unconstitutional overreach. “Imagine ordering dedicated civil servants to trade protections for one community or group of American workers for safeguards to help another,” said Earthjustice Senior Attorney Peter Lehner. “This can’t be our future.” (On the legal challenge.)
On Feb. 28, President Trump signed an executive order ordering the Environmental Protection Agency to dismantle the Clean Water Rule. The EPA is encouraged to replace it with the weakest possible rule that would leave 60% of nation’s streams and millions of acres of wetlands without strong federal protection against toxic pollution. “If the new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and President Trump try to ignore the law, Earthjustice will continue to challenge them in court to ensure this Administration does not dismantle the basic mission of the EPA: the protection of our health and the environment,“ said Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen. Learn more. Take action to defend the Clean Water Rule.
Meanwhile, the 115th Congress is using the Congressional Review Act to destroy newly issued safeguards, bypassing public engagement, scientific research and good governance—and ensuring that “substantially the same” safeguards cannot be issued again without prior Congressional approval. (More on this rarely-used law.) The BLM Methane Rule is one of the safeguards targeted. (How this critical climate and health standard works.) The Stream Protection Rule was eviscerated on Feb. 16 under the Congressional Review Act. “This action is a warning shot to each of us—Congress is willing to trade our health and safety for industry profits,” said Jenifer Collins, Associate Legislative Representative at Earthjustice. (Why we needed this safeguard.)
Earthjustice stands in solidarity with social justice and civil rights groups in supporting the “Build Bridges Not Walls Act” (a bill that would render the President’s Executive Order to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border ineffective) and in response to President Trump’s executive actions to target immigrants and refugees.

We all have a right to clean air, clean water and a healthy environment. Earthjustice will defend bedrock safeguards for all communities. Join us in taking action as we dig in for these very important fights.