Author:

Katelyn Scott

Trump Tower Sued for Non-Compliance with Clean Water Act

Trump Tower is one of many buildings along the Chicago River that uses river water for its cooling systems. Trump Tower is the second largest intake system from the river. Illinois Attorney General, Madigan, filed a lawsuit against the property to ensure that such a large quantity user is not allowed to continue to violate the law. As the value of riverfront property rise, and development continues, enforcement of these types of permits is likely to increase.

Court’s Denial of Motion to Dismiss Advances Blocks of Offshore Drilling

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.

Threat of the Border Wall: Impact on the Enforcement of Environmental Regulation

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.

Required Regulation? Challenge to BLM repeal of New Fracking Standards

Environmental and tribal groups have historically taken important roles in implementing and enforcing regulations to protect the environment. In a recent action, environmental and tribal groups took on the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in an attempt to quash BLM’s elimination of a rule regulating the chemicals used in fracking. Although the final rule was originally officially published and implemented in 2015,  it never went into full effect due to major challenges brought by the oil and gas industry. However, the Trump administration recently repealed the rule in its entirety, prompting a lawsuit arguing that the BLM is required to promulgate regulations as part of its mission.

Battle of Bears Ears: Challenging Presidential Authority Under the Antiquities Act

After an executive order for review of designations under the Antiquities Act, the Department of Interior to review 27 different national monuments, a leaked internal memo revealed a plan to reduce the size of four national monuments. One of the reductions, recommended by Secretary Zinke, was the shrinking of Bears Ears National Monument. Senator Hatch of Utah since confirmed the whispers; in a conversation with Senator Hatch, President Trump revealed his plans to downsize multiple monuments in Utah, including Bears Ears. This action has raised questions about whether a president, under the Antiquities Act of 1906, is allowed to shrink national monuments.

Grizzly Bears and Compliance with the Endangered Species Act

In late June 2017, the Department of the Interior and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) officially announced that after 42 years, the population of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone area could be delisted as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The bears in areas surrounding Yellowstone National Park would now be under state control, a move which has been met with great resistance from environmentalists and some Native American tribes in the region. On August 30, 2017, EarthJustice filed a lawsuit alleging FWS failed to rationally address threats to grizzly bears, including consideration of the lower-48 population as a whole, and therefore violating the Endangered Species Act delisting procedures.

Using Deregulation to End the War on Coal and Oil

Environmental regulation has been heavily targeted by President Trump since the first days of his presidency, and even throughout his campaign. He announced early on that he wanted to cut general business regulations by at least 75%. His justification was that he wanted to remove red tape and delays and promote industry growth and economic development. The two industries potentially most affected by changes to environmental regulations are the oil industry and the coal mining industry.

One of this administration’s first big moves towards environmental deregulation was withdrawing from the Paris Accord. Against the advice of many leaders in the tech and fossil fuel industry, Trump chose to withdraw, stating that the terms of the accord were not as favorable to the United States. Experts say the support of the Paris Accord stems from a general trend towards reducing emission and creating more sustainable sources as a better investment than coal and oil, and a more “global framework”. Although some experts and leaders in the fossil fuel industry have been denouncing the changes, others are consulting with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Interior Department on policy changes and leading the teams created to evaluate and remove regulations.