We’ve heard a lot about how the Trump administration is rolling back environmental regulations, especially those set by the EPA under President Obama. Rules created to address everything from chemical safety to climate change to water pollution have all come under attack by the Trump administration. But that doesn’t mean it’s getting its way on these issues—at least not in court.
Judges have pushed back on Trump’s deregulatory agenda in sometimes rapid fire succession. On the latest episode of our podcast, Trump on Earth, we talk about those rollbacks and how they’re holding up in court with someone who’s been fighting them since day one.
Mitch Bernard is chief counsel for the Natural Resources Defense Council, a frequent plaintiff in lawsuits against the EPA and other federal agencies under the Trump administration.
Bernard says the scale and speed of litigation in the last year and a half is incomparable to previous administrations.
“The NRDC is approaching 70 cases against the Trump administration since the inauguration. That’s around one case every nine days,” he said. “We have sued a lot during both Republican and Democratic administrations, but this is utterly unprecedented. We have added a number of lawyers in the last year in order to meet this challenge. We’re all working around the clock because that’s what this moment demands.”
Bernard says things are going great in court, a fact that doesn’t get reported very much. And he points to three reasons for the success. One is the independence of the federal judiciary. Two is that the NRDC has been particularly vigilant and rigorous about challenging every move that the Trump administration makes in the environment and public health arena. And the third reason is the manner in which a number of agencies within the Trump administration are going about their deregulation mission.
“They have rushed to dismantle established protections in a kind of ideologically driven way, and they have not paid sufficient attention to the rule of law, to the procedures that are required before you can take some of the actions that they’re trying to take. And the courts have checked those abuses,” he said.
LISTEN to the entire interview to hear more about specific court cases the NRDC has won, and also about a second wave of court cases that will be filling their docket over the next couple of years. Bernard calls them “Trump Resistance” cases:
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