On March 25, 2020, a judge for the United States District Court in the District of Columbia held that the Army Corp of Engineers (hereinafter the Corp) failed to comply with the standards of the National Environmental Policy Act (hereinafter “the Act”) by failing to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) before deciding to approve federal permits for construction of a portion of the Dakota Access Pipeline which ran under the Mississippi River. The ruling came four years after the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe brought the original action in 2016. The Act is meant to ensure the public that agencies have considered the environmental consequences of a potential project before going forward with it, and so requires agencies to consider any and every significant environmental impact that could result from the project through completion of an Environmental Assessment, and, in some cases, an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
Congress has granted the President the authority to withdraw the Secretary of the Interior’s grants of mineral rights on public lands. However, President Trump has used that same grant of power to remove withdraws of some of the protections President Obama placed. On May 3, 2017, a group of environmental non-profits filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration in the Federal District Court of Alaska, alleging that his actions were an unauthorized use his Presidential power. On March 20, 2018, the Court denied the Defendant’s motion to dismiss.
In early January of this year, the House Committee on Armed Services granted an extension to a bill that would increase border security. An unlikely opponent of this bill is the environmental lobby, since the bill would allow the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to waive the requirements of some of the most important environmental protection statutes. These statutes have been the basis for almost all the citizen enforcement in the environmental arena; they work to maintain protections for 73 different areas along the border, along with numerous endangered species.
As summer turns to fall, leaves begin to change, and farmers in the Midwest start the process of harvesting their crops. Farmers are hard-working, environmentally conscious, planners, who consider how their planting, fertilizer, and equipment effect the environment that their livelihood depends on. They do all of this while still attempting to remain compliant with all applicable state and federal laws. Currently, farmers are worried about changes being made to the Clean Water Act and if they are going to incur large economic damages because of it.