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Update: Aug. 2
EPA announces it will no longer try to delay the implementation of the 2015 smog standard. “The EPA’s hasty retreat,” said Earthjustice attorney Seth Johnson, “shows that public health and environmental organizations and 16 states across the country were right: The agency had no legal basis for delaying implementation of the 2015 smog standard.” Read more.

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 July 12
Stalls implementation of the 2015 smog standard, a key health protection
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Indefinitely delays control of venting, flaring, leaking of methane from oil & gas operations on public, tribal lands
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Attempt to repeal modest rule updates under CRA failed; EPA now attempting to delay protections
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Stalls enforcement of methane pollution safequards for oil & gas operations
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Unlawfully reverses permanent ban on new offshore oil & gas drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans; permits for harmful seismic airgun blasting in Atlantic now being sought
Learn: Atlantic Seismic Learn: Arctic
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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Chilling effect on cases where there is often little legal precedent
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Senate Vote
To President For Signing
Require 70+ new steps in regulatory process
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Senate Vote
To President For Signing
Here’s the latest on the fight for our safeguards:
Updated Aug. 2
On July 12, health, environmental and community groups—represented by Earthjustice—sued the EPA to stop the agency’s delay in implementation of the 2015 smog standard. The standard is a key health protection for millions of people in the United States. The groups asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to quickly throw out or block EPA’s illegal delay. "EPA’s delay flouts the rule of law," said Earthjustice attorney Seth Johnson. "It’s illegal and wrong. It forces the most vulnerable people, like children, people with asthma and the elderly, to continue to suffer from dangerous ozone pollution. The EPA is wrong to put its polluter friends’ profits before people’s health." On Aug. 2, EPA announced it will no longer try to delay the implementation of the 2015 smog standard. More details.
On July 10, a coalition of environmental and tribal citizen groups, represented by Earthjustice, filed a lawsuit over the indefinite delay of the Bureau of Land Management’s Methane and Waste Prevention Rule. On June 5, Earthjustice and our clients and partners went to court to force EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to stop stalling enforcement of methane pollution rules for oil and gas operations. BLM announced on June 15 that it was staying the rule’s compliance deadlines, in defiance of the courts; EPA announced its halt on May 31. "Trump and his administration cannot blatantly ignore the law just to benefit polluters at the expense of everyone else," said Robin Cooley, Staff Attorney at Earthjustice, who has been defending the BLM methane rule in court. "Compliance with public health rules cannot be indefinitely delayed while the Trump Administration and bad actors within the industry try to undo them." (What you should know about methane.)
On June 22, a coalition of groups representing workers, scientists and community members near chemical facilities filed a motion seeking emergency relief from the D.C. Circuit Court to stop the EPA from delaying needed updates to the agency’s Risk Management Program, also known as the Chemical Disaster Rule. “EPA’s sudden delay irresponsibly endangers workers, first responders, and communities living near chemical facilities,” said Earthjustice attorney Gordon Sommers, who is representing fence-line community groups. “It also represents a shocking disregard for the rule of law and the process the government is required to follow before it takes away any health and safety protections under the Clean Air Act.”
On June 14, Farmworker and health organizations represented by Earthjustice and Farmworker Justice filed suit against the EPA for delaying for a year implementation of the revised Certification of Pesticide Applicators rule, which includes much needed requirements like mandatory age minimums, as well as better training for pesticide applicators to protect workers and the public from poisoning by the most toxic pesticides. “EPA’s mission is to protect all Americans from significant risks to human health, and yet it’s delaying life-saving information and training for the workers who handle the most toxic pesticides in the country,” said Eve C. Gartner, Earthjustice attorney. “This delay jeopardizes everyone’s health and safety.”
On June 13, Earthjustice sued the Trump administration for illegally stalling five energy efficiency standards that could save consumers as much as $11 billion on their energy bills. Earthjustice is representing Sierra Club and Consumer Federation of America and joined the Natural Resources Defense Council, 11 states, and the city of New York in the legal action. “When a broad cross-section of American families and businesses stand to benefit from a newly approved regulation,” said Earthjustice attorney Tim Ballo, “we usually don’t have to step in to ensure that regulation gets published in the Federal Register, but these are strange times. Publication is the last step in a very long public process for these standards, and it’s past time that we reap the financial and environmental benefits.”
On June 6, a dozen health, labor and civil rights organizations, represented by Earthjustice, filed an administrative appeal to the EPA, urging the federal government to ban chlorpyrifos. The new appeal challenges, on its merits, the EPA’s March action that allows chlorpyrifos to continue to be used on food crops. “Based on the science and the law, the only credible thing to do to protect public health is ban this toxic pesticide,” said Patti Goldman, the Earthjustice managing attorney handling the case. (What you should know about chlorpyrifos.)
The White House forfeits American leadership, announcing on June 1 that the United States is withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement. "Trump’s announcement is far from the final word," said Trip Van Noppen, President of Earthjustice. "Legally, the United States is still in the Paris Agreement for at least the next year. As an environmental law organization, Earthjustice will continue to do everything in our power to accelerate the clean energy transition in the United States and globally. We are already working in states around the country and partners around the world. Trump's action won't reverse the momentum. The American people will not turn our back on climate leadership." (What you should know about the Paris Climate Agreement.)
On May 24, the Trump administration released a proposed budget would eviscerate crucial environmental programs. "Polluters win, families lose—that’s the Trump budget in a nutshell," said Trip Van Noppen, Earthjustice President. 5 ways Trump talks "clean" and budgets "dirty."
Trump’s EPA could nix safeguards for coal ash dumps. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is now considering a petition filed on May 12 by industrial polluters that seeks to do away with most of the EPA’s environmental safeguards for coal ash, the toxic waste left over from coal-burning power plants. The protections were outlined in a settlement Earthjustice won on behalf of ten public interest groups and the Moapa Band of Paiutes. "Americans should not stand for these industrial polluters trying to weasel out of their responsibility to clean up their toxic messes," said Lisa Evans, Senior Administrative Counsel at Earthjustice.
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.) The clock ran down on an attempt to undermine the Chemical Safety Rule.
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." Take action to help defend our National Monuments.
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 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.”
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.)
On Feb. 8, Earthjustice filed a lawsuit 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.