Previous Legal and Political News 2018

House Dems end year with Interior-EPA spending plan 12-31-18

House Democrats signaled their readiness for 2019 combat with President Trump with the New Year’s Eve release of an omnibus spending bill aimed at reopening the government. Read more at E & E News

Inside the bill that set the ‘strongest clean energy requirement in the nation’ 12-29-18

Washington, D.C., is positioning itself on the climate policy fast track. The District of Columbia city council voted unanimously last week to approve an expansive climate bill requiring utility providers to generate 100 percent of their energy supply from renewable sources by 2032. Read more at Grist

EPA to make it harder to tighten mercury rules in the future 12-28-18

The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday proposed a major change in the way the federal government calculates the costs and benefits of dangerous air pollutants, arguing that authorities should exclude some of the public health benefits stemming from new rules. Read more at The Washington Post

‘Turns Out,’ Says Ocasio-Cortez, ‘Everyday People Like It When We Fight for Everyday People’ 12-18-18

Celebrating new poll that shows widespread support for a bold ‘Green New Deal,’ newly-elected progressive Democrat pinpoints winning formula Read more at Common Dreams

D.C. Just Passed A Historic Bill Mandating 100 Percent Renewable Power By 2032 12-18-18

The unanimously approved legislation puts the nation’s capital at the vanguard of climate policy — even as the federal government is going in reverse. Read more at Huffington Post

Stop Letting Republicans Lie on TV About Climate Science 11-27-18

Conservatives have been repeating the same handful of absurd talking points for years. Why aren’t reporters calling them out? Read more at The New Republic

Energy priorities shift as a new administration takes hold 11-25-18

After eight years of what some call obstructionist policies, renewables advocates look forward to Janet Mills in the Blaine House. Read more at the Portland Press Herald

5 Election Winners to Watch on Climate as Environment Crusaders Head to Congress 11-12-18

They’ve taken on polluters and built climate solutions. Now they’re bringing activism to Congress in one of the most diverse freshmen classes in U.S. House history. Read more at Inside Climate News

The Zinke effect: how the US interior department became a tool of industry 11-12-18

Trump’s interior secretary has been remaking the agency charged with protecting public lands as an ally of big energy. Read more at The Guardian

The era of bipartisanship on climate is dead. Here’s what comes next. 11-07-18

As the results of the midterms continue to trickle in, one thing is clear: Bipartisan climate action in the U.S. is over. Read more at Grist

With Democratic Majority, Climate Change Is Back on U.S. House Agenda 11-07-18

Fossil fuel supporters will still control the Senate, but the House will soon be able to turn a spotlight on climate change and Trump’s retreat from responsibility. Read more at Inside Climate News

The hottest fight in American politics? Arizona’s smackdown over solar power. 11-02-18

It is the hottest, most expensive campaign in Arizona this year — and it’s not the one for the U.S. Senate. Read more at The Washington Post

Worry Wards 10-30-18

How might environmental anxiety impact the midterm elections? Grist looked at the nation’s most competitive House races.

Earlier this fall, the world’s top climate scientists gave humanity about 10 years to avoid a future that really sucks. With the midterm elections right around the corner, that warning means voters are effectively deciding which candidates to trust with the keys to the climate. If voters are sufficiently worried about warming, that anxiety might help determine who is put in office. Read more at Grist

A Caucus and Bull Story 10-23-18

The Climate Solutions Caucus welcomes former climate deniers and would-be-EPA abolishers in the name of bipartisanship. Read more at Grist

The Environment Is on the November Ballot — Here’s Where and What’s at Stake 10-12-18

Environmental issues such as polluted drinking water in Michigan and harmful algal blooms in Florida could influence which candidates voters will support in this November’s midterm election, said Holly Burke, communications coordinator of the League of Conservation Voters. Read more at EcoWatch

‘We need some fire’: climate change activists issue call to arms for voters 10-12-18

Campaigners say more than 15m people who care about the environment did not vote in the 2014 midterms – can they create a ‘green wave’ this November? Read more at The Guardian

6 New Governors Who Will Lead the Way on Climate Action 10-07-18

Climate action was on the ballot in yesterday’s election. By electing candidates who ran on platforms to protect the planet for future generations, voters picked the environment as a winning issue. Read more at Center for American Progress

If Kavanaugh Is Confirmed, We Need to Mobilize Like Never Before 10-05-18

His record indicates that he would stonewall movements against poverty, militarism, and racism for a generation. It’s a familiar story: A candidate for president loses the popular vote, is still selected by the Electoral College, and nominates judges to federal courts who reverse groundbreaking civil-rights laws.

Trump and Kavanaugh aren’t the first. Read more at The Nation

Mountain Valley Pipeline Construction Permit Revoked by Federal Court 10-04-18

Communities along the 300-mile proposed route for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) heard some good news this week. On Tuesday, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously voted to vacate a permit required by the Clean Water Act, which was previously issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Read more at EcoWatch

Former Koch staffer appointed to key EPA position 10-02-18

The agency is stocked full of industry insiders.The Environmental Protection Agency has hired a former Koch Industries staffer who worked on water and chemical policy to fill a key role within the agency, continuing a Trump administration trend of appointing company insiders to oversee the industries they are meant to regulate. Read more at Think Progress

How Brett Kavanaugh Could Help Trump Weaken Mercury Pollution Regulations 10-01-18

The president wants to let coal plants emit more of the neurotoxin. The Supreme Court nominee’s views on the subject are already clear.

How much mercury should coal plants be allowed to emit? There’s been a years-long fight in Washington, D.C., over that very question—and who wins it may ultimately depend on whether Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed to the Supreme Court. Read more at The New Republic

Citizens put renewable energy on this year’s ballots 09-29-18

The fossil fuel-friendly Trump administration has been busy rolling back environmental regulations and opening millions of acres of public land to oil and gas drilling. Just last week, the Interior Department announced plans to gut an Obama-era methane pollution rule, giving natural gas producers more leeway to emit the powerful greenhouse gas. Read more at Grist

EPA Places Children’s Health Leader on Unexplained Leave 09-27-18

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) placed the head of the Office of Children’s Health Protection on administrative leave Tuesday in a move that those close to the agency suspect is intended to sideline the office’s work, The New York Times reported Wednesday. Read more at EcoWatch

Report: 140 House Members Vote Against Chemical Safeguards Every Time 09-18-18

The Environmental Working Group Action Fund, the political arm of the Environmental Working Group (EWG), released a first-ever report that scores how each member of the U.S. House of Representatives voted on chemical policy and safety. or co-sponsored measures that weaken existing chemical safety laws. 09-18-18

Read more at EcoWatch

Stunning Victory for Indigenous Nations as Canada Halts Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion 08-30-18

A Canadian court “quashed” approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion on Thursday, a major setback for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose government agreed to purchase the controversial project from Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion Canadian dollars (U.S. $3.5 billion) in May. Read more at EcoWatch

South Portland, Maine Wins Critical Fight vs. Big Oil 08-29-18

The city of South Portland, Maine has won an important victory in a three-year legal battle to stop a pipeline company from offloading tar sands crude oil on its waterfront. Read more at EcoWatch

Top interior staffer who backed shrinking national monuments to join BP 08-28-18

For much of last year, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s deputy chief of staff pursued his agenda with vigor.

Downey Magallanes led an effort to cut the size of two vast protected areas in southern Utah, opening public lands to possible development and energy exploration. She participated in deliberations over how to scale back safety monitoring rules for offshore oil and gas operations. And she helped develop a leasing plan that would permit drilling in most U.S. continental shelf waters. Read more at The Washington Post

How the environment has become a key factor in Florida’s elections 08-26-18

It was less than a month ago, in early August, that Southwest Florida fishing guide Nick Fischer told Good Morning America that a putrid combination of blue-green algae and a red tide in the region had him feeling anxious about the impacts the ecological disaster would have on his business. Read more at ABC News

Trump’s Plan for Coal Emissions: Let Coal States Regulate Them 08-17-18

The Trump administration next week plans to formally propose a vast overhaul of climate change regulations that would allow individual states to decide how, or even whether, to curb carbon dioxide emissions from coal plants, according to a summary of the plan and details provided by three people who have seen the full proposal. Read more at The New York Times

Exclusive: Draft details Trump’s plan for reversing Obama climate rule 08-14-18

A portion of the rule obtained by POLITICO shows Trump’s EPA easing the planned limits on the pollution from power generators driving climate change.

The Trump administration is preparing to unveil its plan for undoing Barack Obama’s most ambitious climate regulation — offering a replacement that would do far less to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the planet, according to POLITICO’s review of a portion of the unpublished draft. Read more at Politico

Why Alaska might seriously consider a carbon tax 08-11-18

Alaska isn’t exactly the first state you’d expect to embrace a price on carbon. Yet the state legislature will likely be weighing one after the November elections. When carbon taxes keep getting scrapped by blue states like Washingtonand Oregon, why would such a plan succeed in Alaska: a red state where oil companies are a major economic lifeline? Read more at Grist

Baltimore voters will decide on the future of their water 08-09-18

Water bills in Baltimore are out of control. Between 2010 and 2017, the typical household’s annual water and sewer bill jumped from $347 to $720. Residents have even turned to buying bottled water and purchasing gym memberships just to use the showers, because its more affordable than using their tap. Read more at Grist

Court Rebukes EPA, Orders Ban on Pesticide That Harms Kids’ Brains 08-10-18

In a scathing opinion, a federal court on Thursday ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban chlorpyrifos, a toxic pesticide linked to brain damage in children. Read more at EWG

North Carolina & The GOP Are Feeding You a Bunch of Hogwash 08-03-18

It is almost trite these days to point out that Trump’s Republican party is engaged in Orwellian doublespeak, but what is unique about this morning’s “Roundtable to discuss the threat that nuisance lawsuits pose to the U.S. agriculture industry, rural America, and farm families nationwide,” in Raleigh N.C. — attended by North Carolina Senator Thom Tills, North Carolina Congressman David Rouzer and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway — is that it doesn’t just perpetuate a lie; it reveals how the lies coming from Trump’s GOP suppress the power of local communities and, especially, marginalize disenfranchised communities of color. Read more at the Daily Kos

From Dow’s ‘Dioxin Lawyer’ to Trump’s Choice to Run Superfund 07-28-18

The lawyer nominated to run the Superfund toxic cleanup program is steeped in the complexities of restoring polluted rivers and chemical dumps. He spent more than a decade on one of the nation’s most extensive cleanups, one involving Dow Chemical’s sprawling headquarters in Midland, Mich. Read more at The New York Times

The Energy 202: Unintentional email dump shows Trump team’s intentions with national monuments 07-24-18

President Trump told an audience in Salt Lake City in January that he was shrinking the size of two national monuments in the state so that Utah’s natural resources were no longer “controlled by a small handful of very distant bureaucrats located in Washington.” Read more at The Washington Post

Trump’s USDA Fights Global Guidelines on Livestock Antibiotics 07-23-18

Instead, the U.S. is helping draft an alternative approach that appears more favorable to agribusiness. The Trump administration is resisting the World Health Organization’s effort to sharply limit antibiotic use in farm animals, a move intended to help preserve the drugs’ effectiveness. Read more at Bloomberg

6 Ways EPA’s New Leader, a Former Coal Lobbyist, Could Shape Climate Policy 07-07-18

With Scott Pruitt’s resignation, Andrew Wheeler inherits some important decisions, including on the Clean Power Plan, auto standards, methane and use of science.

With Scott Pruitt’s resignation, responsibility for leading President Donald Trump’s retreat from climate action passes from an ideological fighter to a Washington political pro. Read more at Inside Climate News

What the Failure of the House Farm Bill Means for Good Food Advocates 05-23-18

Last week’s collapse of the bill surprised many, but it’s too soon to declare it a win.

When the House Farm Bill failed to pass in a 198-213 vote last Friday, many food and farm advocates declared victory. Read more at Civil Eats

Atlantic Coast Pipeline Faces Civil Rights Complaint After Key Permit Is Blocked 05-18-18

Opponents of the pipeline say state & federal agencies failed to assess the health impacts the project would have on minorities, as required under federal law. Read more at Inside Climate News

The Energy 202: Scott Pruitt’s ‘red team-blue team’ debate prep largely left out mainstream climate scientists 05-10-18

When Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt wanted to set up opposing teams to debate the science of climate change, his staff sought advice primarily from well-known climate doubters at conservative think tanks. Read more at The Washington Post

Pruitt’s EPA Is on the Verge of ‘Regulatory Capture’, Study Says 05-01-18

When EPA decisions are based on industry priorities rather than public interest, that’s regulatory capture. Social scientists say Trump’s EPA is on the edge.Under the Trump administration, the EPA has veered so far from its foundational mission of protecting human health and the environment that it faces the highest risk in its 47-year history of being reshaped to serve industry rather than the American public, according to a new study in the American Journal of Public Health. Read more at Inside Climate News

Jury hits pork giant for $50M for hog operation’s nuisance 04-26-18

A federal jury on Thursday awarded more than $50 million in damages to neighbors of an industrial hog operation found responsible for intense smells, noise and other disturbances so bad people couldn’t enjoy their rural homes. Read more at

Across the U.S., Climate Change Lawsuits Are Gaining Steam 04-20-18

The scandal-plagued head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says he’s not sure whether “human activity … is a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.” The president has moved to pull the U.S. out of the landmark Paris climate agreement. And climate-science deniers and skeptics control Congress. Read more at EcoWatch

‘Sick Joke’: House Agriculture Committee Advances Farm Bill Attacking Environment, Endangered Species 04-19-18

The House Agriculture Committee passed H.R. 2, the 2018 Farm Bill, Wednesday on a party-line basis. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), includes dozens of poison-pill riders that would gut fundamental environmental safeguards. Read more at EcoWatch

The Energy 202: NAACP joins environmental groups in calling for Scott Pruitt’s ouster 04-18-18

Environmental organizations have made themselves hoarse calling for Scott Pruitt’s ouster from the Environmental Protection Agency over his controversial spending and personnel decisions, as well as his deregulatory agenda. Read more at The Washington Post

Commentary: Lawmakers want the EPA to ignore impacts of pesticides on endangered species 04-13-18

It would be hard to overstate the dangers of this Farm Bill rider

According to the latest push by House Republicans, pesticides — all of them — are so safe there’s no longer any need to bother asking experts to determine their harm to our most endangered species before approving them. Read more at Environmental Health News

If Scott Pruitt Gets Fired From the EPA, This Coal Lobbyist Will Take His Place 04-09-18

It’s like “having a tobacco lobbyist heading up the American Lung Association.”

The Senate is about to confirm the man who would take over the Environmental Protection Agency should Scott Pruitt step down. Andrew Wheeler, an energy lobbyist who has worked for the Senate’s biggest climate change denier, faces a confirmation vote for deputy administrator, the number two position at the agency, as soon as Tuesday. Read more at Mother Jones

EPA To Gut The Only Major Federal Rule To Cut Climate Pollution From Vehicles 04-02-18

The decision could divide automakers and set the Trump administration up for a series of legal battles.

The Environmental Protection Agency said Monday it plans to undo a landmark Obama-era rule tightening fuel standards for vehicles. Read more at the Huffington Post

Day in Court 03-20-18

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed two class-action lawsuits over contaminated water to go to trial.

Flint residents and businesses brought civil rights claims against state and local officials in the suits, filed in 2014 and 2016. The city’s lead crisis has been linked to an increase in fetal deaths, a deadly Legionnaire’s disease outbreak, and long-term effects on children’s health. Read more at Grist

‘We’ll See You in Court’: Kids Climate Lawsuit Moves Forward After Judge Denies Trump 03-08-18

Young plaintiffs cheer outside a federal courthouse in Eugene, Oregon. Robin Loznak

A federal court rejected the Trump administration’s attempt to shut down a landmark lawsuit initiated by 21 young plaintiffs suing the government for its creation of climate danger. Read more at EcoWatch

Millennials’ Climate Views Could Sway 10 House Elections This November 03-05-18

Millennial voters are poised to drive the U.S. debate on climate change—and they could have an oversized impact on 10 competitive congressional elections this year, two new studies suggest. Read more at Scientific American

Monsanto Judge Says Expert Testimony Against Roundup Is ‘Shaky’ 03-4-18

A lawsuit claiming Monsanto Co.’s popular weed killer Roundup causes cancer was dealt a blow by a judge’s conclusions that the opinions of the experts testifying against it are “shaky,” a potentially devastating development for the case getting to trial Read more at Bloomberg

Congressional Republicans got F’s on their environmental report cards 02-27-18

This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Congressional Republicans and Democrats have never been further apart on environmental issues. The top leadership in the GOP is comprised entirely of climate change deniers, while Democrats have aligned in opposition to President Trump’s agenda. Read more at Grist

Court Orders Trump Administration to Enforce Obama-Era Methane Rule 02-23-18

A federal judge reinstated a widely supported methane waste rule that President Trump’s administration has repeatedly tried to stop.

Judge William Orrick of the U.S. District Court for Northern California ruled Thursday that Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) decision to suspend core provisions of the 2016 Methane and Waste Prevention Rule was “untethered to evidence.” Read more at EcoWatch

PA’s Environmental Rights Amendment grows some teeth 02-18-18

After decades of irrelevance, two court decisions uphold people’s right to ‘clean air, pure water,’ hearten activists to push for more

For all of its natural bounty, Pennsylvania has environmental woes aplenty. Take your pick — 19,000 miles of impaired streams, 5,500 of them from abandoned coal mines; state environmental agencies and programs starved of funds as Pennsylvania fails to do its part to maintain safe drinking water and clean up the Chesapeake Bay; and state forests carved up by drilling pads and pipelines. Read more at Bay Journal

This Scientist Stands Between Scott Pruitt and the Destruction of the EPA’s Advisory Boards 02-14-18

“This is an inappropriate action being taken by the federal government and the right thing to do is to push back on it.”

On January 26, after serving as a scientific advisor to the Environmental Protection Agency for about two years, Robyn Wilson received her first note from EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt thanking her for her service—which was officially over. She had one year left in her term. Read more at Mother Jones

Why This California City Is Taking On Chevron, Exxon And Shell Over Climate Change 02-10-18

Richmond became the ninth U.S. community in the last year to sue fossil fuel giants over climate change.

Andrés Soto remembers the first time his parents allowed him to walk to a friend’s house after dark. As he made his way down the street in Richmond, California, where he lived, he could see a massive flame shoot up into the air from the refinery in the distance. Read more at Huffington Post

N.C. governor stuck between a pipeline and offshore drilling plan 02-08-18

Song, signs, and prayer filled the corridors of North Carolina’s state administration building. Activists would occupy the space all day to protest Gov. Roy Cooper’s approval of a fracked gas pipeline slated to end in the state. Read more at Energy News Network

Bye! 02-05-18

Trump’s controversial environment pick is out.

President Trump’s nominee for the Council on Environmental Quality called CO2 a “plant nutrient,” which is true, I guess, but Kathleen Hartnett White also said that “Carbon dioxide has none of the characteristics of a pollutant that could harm human health,” so … Reprinted from Grist

A Rollback of DACA Would Undercut American Science, Too 01-29-18

Those who know what it’s like to be undocumented note that large percentages of DACA recipients study or work in the sciences. Read more at Undark

3 Reasons a Meat Tax Is a Good Idea 01-29-18

A new analysis from the investor network Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return (FAIRR) Initiative argues that meat is going down the same road as tobacco, carbon emissions and sugar toward a “sin tax”—a levy intended to reduce consumption of products that are harmful. Read more at EcoWatch

Once a cheater, always a cheater 1-26-18

The Trump administration just axed a decades-old air pollution policy.

The Environmental Protection Agency relaxed regulations on some major sources of pollution on Thursday. The agency repealed its “once in, always in” policy under the Clean Air Act, which had been used to regulate major polluters since 1995. Read more at Gris

Monsanto’s Fingerprints All Over Newsweek’s Opinion Piece, a Hit on Organic Food 01-24-18

“The campaign for organic food is a deceitful, expensive scam,” according to a Jan. 19 Newsweek article authored by Dr. Henry I. Miller of the Hoover Institution.

If that name sounds familiar—Henry I. Miller—it may be because the New York Times recently revealed a scandal involving Miller: that he had been caught publishing an article ghostwritten by Monsanto under his own name in Forbes Read more at EcoWatch

Gov. Murphy Plays to NJ Environmentalists from Day One 01-17-18

Inaugural speech touches on climate change, renewables, lead — and making Garden State a ‘green’ leader once more

Imagine this: A governor talking about the sad reality of climate change, investing aggressively in renewable energy, and creating housing safe from the danger of lead. Read more at NJ Spotlight

Atlantic Coast Pipeline hits more delays in North Carolina 01-11-18

North Carolina regulators Wednesday announced the latest round of setbacks for the 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline — delaying a decision on the project’s clean water certificate until as late as February and postponing several other environmental permits. Read more at Southeast Energy News

States Vow to Fight Trump’s ‘Disastrous’ Offshore Drilling Plans 01-08-18

As Washington continues to digest the explosive revelations in the book Fire and Fury about the chaotic and dysfunctional White House and whether the president is mentally fit for office, the Trump administration continues its full-frontal assault on the environment. Read more at EcoWatch

Climate Scientists Exiled by Trump Form Panel to Continue Work 01-04-18

Columbia University’s Earth Institute has hired one of the committee’s researchers, Richard Moss of the University of Maryland, who will reconvene most of the former panel members and produce the same report. Read more at Bloomberg

Dem senator will try to block Trump from changing offshore drilling rules 01-03-18

A Democratic senator plans to use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to block President Trump from overturning safety rules put in place after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster in 2010. Read more at The Hill