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Finally Some Winning!

Pam Sornson

Posted on October 2, 2019 15:04

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Despite attempted rollbacks and erosions to the nation's critical environmental protection laws, the current administration is woefully short on actually attaining the goals those actions were designed to achieve.

The 2016 announcement by the GOP presidential candidate that the U.S. would pull out of the Paris Climate Accord if he won was an alarm and a clarion call for environmental activists. Sure enough, as Election Day 2016 came to a close, Drew Caputo, a lead lawyer with the advocacy group Earthjustice, was already gathering legal associates to respond to the republican's disastrous plan to ignore the threat of climate change. Caputo believed that a strategized defense to the new administration's potentially devastating environmental 'policies' would be the best course to protect the land - and the country - through the next four years. 


His forethought was prescient: within four months of his swearing-in, the president announced he was opening vast swaths of the Arctic, Atlantic, and Pacific oceans for off-shore drilling. His newly installed director of the EPA almost immediately began laying off scientists, eradicating critical and well-informed opinions from environmental policy-making. And he attacked land-locked treasures as well, reducing the size of National Monuments so those lands could be drilled and mined.  


Building on the efforts of the outgoing Obama administration, the Earthjustice lawyers took on those battles to protect America's pristine natural treasures from exploitation by the new president's petroleum and fossil fuel cronies. Along with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) they filed lawsuit after lawsuit, bringing jurisdictional oversight to the actions of the reckless and feckless tyrant in the Oval Office.


Notable Successes

The NRDC has sued the federal government dozens of times, with defendants including the EPA and the Departments of the Interior, Commerce, and Energy. Of the 53 cases resolved (as of September 2019), 49 have been in favor of the plaintiff, the NRDC, which represents a 92% win rate. 


The Earthjustice attorneys have also scored well in holding back the corrosive actions of the current administration. They sued the government 120 times in just its first two years, and of the 17 cases that have resolved to date, 16 were in favor of ... the plaintiff, Earthjustice.  


The successes ensure that affected health and environmental protections remain in force across the country. Those protections run the gamut from maintaining protections for grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone Park; ensuring the implementation of new smog-prevention rules designed to reduce asthma attacks, and preservation of a standard for chemical-management safety that impacts almost 120 million Americans. 


Many More Litigations in Process

The legal battle for the environment continues on, with dozens of cases filling both federal and state courts. As those wind through the legal system, environmentalists are hopeful that the 'winning' will continue, regardless of the time it takes to achieve it. The victory in the battle to protect the oceans from petroleum exploration was worth the wait. Two years after its filing, a federal court struck down significant portions of that 'Executive Order,' and ordered that the Obama-era rules would stay in effect until Congress changes them. 

Now, THIS is winning! 

Pam Sornson

Posted on October 2, 2019 15:04

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Source: NPR

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