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Recent News:
On May 10, a Senate procedural vote failed, 49–51, preventing a Congressional Review Act resolution from nullifying the Bureau of Land Management’s Methane Waste Rule. "Commonsense prevailed today in the United States Congress," said Jessica Ennis, Senior Legislative Representative at Earthjustice. "By preserving this win-win rule that protects public health and saves taxpayers money at the same time, Congress is managing to slowly rebuild its credibility as an institution that can serve as a check against powerful corporate interests." More details.

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 May 10
Unlawfully reverses permanent ban on new offshore oil & gas drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans
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Places indefinite hold on cleaning up coal plant discharge to public waters
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Directs Interior Dept. to review Monuments designated 1996–2017, over 100,000 acres
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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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Attempt to repeal modest rule updates under CRA fails; EPA seeking to delay protections
Chilling effect on cases where there is often little legal precedent
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Senate Vote
Signed by President
Require 70+ new steps in regulatory process
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Senate Vote
Signed by President
Here’s the latest on the fight for our safeguards:
Updated May 17
The Regulatory Accountability Act was introduced in the Senate on Apr. 26 and was approved by a Senate committee on May 17, setting it up for a possible floor vote later this year. "Our environmental and public health laws were enacted to provide clean air and water for all, work environments and schools free from toxins, and consumer products that won’t make us sick or cause injury," said Coby Dolan, Senior Legislative Counsel at Earthjustice. "The bill violates this foundational principle by not putting American’s health and safety first."
On May 15, Earthjustice—part of a coalition of public health and environmental groups—filed briefs in the D.C. Circuit, urging the court to move forward and decide lawsuits challenging the Clean Power Plan. The coalition will defend the 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.)
The 115th Congress has been 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.) On May 10, the attempt to repeal BLM Methane Rule failed a procedural vote in the Senate (49–51). "Commonsense prevailed today in the United States Congress," said Jessica Ennis, Senior Legislative Representative at Earthjustice. "By preserving this win-win rule that protects public health and saves taxpayers money at the same time, Congress is managing to slowly rebuild its credibility as an institution that can serve as a check against powerful corporate interests." (How this critical climate and health standard works.) The Stream Protection Rule was eviscerated on Feb. 16 under the Congressional Review Act. (Why we needed this safeguard.)
On May 3, Earthjustice filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration's Apr. 28 Executive Order attempting to open up more than 120 million acres of ocean territory to the oil and gas industry, affecting 98% of federal Arctic Ocean waters and 31 biologically rich deepwater canyons in the Atlantic Ocean. This decision exceeds Trump’s constitutional and statutory authority and violates federal law. "We are going to court today to defend these irreplaceable waters and work along with millions of Americans who support a brighter vision for our nation and this planet," said Trip Van Noppen, President of Earthjustice. The short-sighted order reverses climate progress and imperils coastal communities, irreplaceable wildlife, and our shared future.
On May 3, Earthjustice filed a lawsuit challenging a Trump administration rollback that could wipe out critical protections for cleaning up America’s leading source of toxic water pollution: coal power plant waste. The federal lawsuit seeks to invalidate an April 25 EPA order that abruptly put an indefinite hold on a set of safeguards to control the amount of arsenic, mercury, cadmium, lead and other pollutants that spew from coal power plants into our public waters. By putting those protections on hold indefinitely, the Trump administration is allowing power plants to continue discharging toxics without any specific limits, using standards set 35 years ago. “I don’t think anything considered state of the art in 1982 would still be state of the art today, especially when you are talking about the number-one source of toxic water pollution in the country,” said Thomas Cmar, Staff Attorney at Earthjustice. “EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is not above the law and he doesn’t have the power to roll back public health protections with the stroke of a pen.”
On Apr. 26, the Trump Administration issued an executive order to the Department of the Interior to review national monuments designated between 1996 and 2017 over 100,000 acres in size. According to Secretary Zinke, the review will lead to a report on Bears Ears National Monument in 45 days and a larger report on national monuments in 120 days. "President Trump is looking for ways to gut monuments and weaken the Antiquities Act, the nation’s century-old public lands law protecting some of our most cherished landscapes and heritage," said Heidi McIntosh, Managing Attorney at Earthjustice. "Earthjustice stands ready to defend the Antiquities Act and the national monuments protected under the law."
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.
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 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 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.”
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. Take action to defend the Clean Water Rule.
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.