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Report: Trump Administration Sets New Records for Court Losses

The Trump administration has lost 16 of the 17 lawsuits brought by Earthjustice that have resulted in major environmental court decisions so far. (Pixabay)
The Trump administration has lost 16 of the 17 lawsuits brought by Earthjustice that have resulted in major environmental court decisions so far. (Pixabay)
January 25, 2019

HARTFORD, Conn. – The Trump administration's efforts to weaken public health and environmental regulations are being roundly defeated in the courts, according to a new report.

The administration that promised its supporters would get "tired of winning" apparently doesn't need to worry about fatigue setting in. The law firm Earthjustice has filed 118 lawsuits challenging a multitude of deregulatory efforts, from opening Atlantic coast waters to offshore drilling to delaying the ban of a deadly pesticide.

David Baron, managing attorney in the Earthjustice Washington, D.C., office, says of the 17 lawsuits that have resulted in major court decisions so far, the administration has won only one.

"They're just taking a 'slash and burn' approach to dismantling these legal protections,” says Baron, “without analysis, without facts and without legal support. And that's why we have courts, to hold government officials accountable when they act irresponsibly and illegally, and that's what's been happening here."

The Trump administration has claimed in many of the cases that environmental regulations hinder economic development.

Among the challenges ahead is Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler's proposal to weaken the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard. Baron notes that the EPA itself estimates the rule would save 11,000 lives every year.

"Now these guys have come in and they're trying, through the back door, to dismantle those protections,” says Baron. “It makes no sense, it's not lawful and we're going to fight it all the way."

Mercury, emitted by coal-fired power plants, travels far from the original source and is absorbed by fish that are eaten by consumers.

Baron predicts the administration's losing streak will continue, because it's basing policy on ideology, and often ignoring the science that shows that regulations are needed and are working.

"They're trying to blind themselves from the very facts they need to make the decisions to protect ourselves and future generations,” says Baron. “And the courts are going to see that, and they're not going to let it go forward."

The report is online at Earthjustice.org.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT