The Real Lowdown: The Trump and Congressional Republican Assault on Our Environment, Vol. 7

In a series of legal actions, NRDC and our allies have thrown up significant legal blocks to slow, and possibly derail, Trump's environmental runaway train.
Credit: Daniel X. O'Neil/Flickr

President Trump’s headlong rush to undo health and environmental protections is hitting some speed bumps. In a series of legal actions, NRDC and our allies have thrown up significant legal blocks to slow, and possibly derail, that runaway train.

Defending the Clean Power Plan

The latest legal salvo occurred on April 5. Earlier, Trump had asked the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., to stop work on the Clean Power Plan case before the court. NRDC joined Earthjustice, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Sierra Club, and the Center for Biological Diversity in filing a response opposing that request.

David Doniger, head of NRDC’s climate and clean air program, likened Trump’s move to trying to kill the landmark plan to curb climate pollution by stealth. He called on the court to finish its work and issue its ruling.

Going to Court to Protect Children

Also on April 5, NRDC and the Pesticide Action Network went to court against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for refusing to proceed with its ban of chlorpyrifos—a pesticide linked to learning disabilities in children. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is ignoring the EPA’s own health analysis of chlorpyrifos, which found residues of the chemical on fruits and vegetables 14,000 percent higher than the level deemed safe for children.

That earned him a new moniker: Public Health Enemy Number One.

Challenging the EPA’s Botched Weed-Killer Review

Another dangerous chemical hit the spotlight on March 21, when NRDC filed a petition for review in federal court of the EPA’s illegal approval of Enlist Duo, a weed killer that poses a risk to human health and monarch butterflies.

Launching Legal Action to Save Consumers Billions

NRDC and others also have been motivated to protect consumers’ wallets. This concern prompted legal challenges filed on April 3 charging the U.S. Department of Energy with dragging its feet on six energy efficiency standards that could save Americans as much as $23 billion. Kit Kennedy, head of NRDC’s Energy & Transportation program, labeled the delay illegal and warned that it is hurting families and businesses.

Battling to Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline

On March 24, Trump tried to breathe new life into the Obama-rejected Keystone XL pipeline by approving, with full White House fanfare, a cross-border permit for its construction. Six days later, NRDC joined Friends of the Earth, the Bold Alliance, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Northern Plains Resource Council, and the Sierra Club in suing the administration for illegally granting the permit. The battle to block the tar sands project that would imperil our water, land, and climate continues.

Protecting Clean Water

The need for clean water protections prompted NRDC and the National Wildlife Federation to file a motion with the Supreme Court on March 15, asking the court to reject Trump’s moves, through an executive order, to destroy the Clean Water Rule. This commonsense rule would add safeguards for streams that feed the drinking water supplies of more than 117 million Americans.

Fighting Senseless Rollbacks and Supporting Mercury Limits

In earlier legal action, on February 8, NRDC filed suit seeking to block Trump’s two-for-one order regarding federal regulations. NRDC President Rhea Suh likened the executive order to a doctor declaring that we can’t find a cure for cancer unless we abandon vaccines for polio and smallpox.

NRDC has also gone to court to stop Trump from rolling back proposed limits on the public’s exposure to mercury, a neurotoxin especially harmful to pregnant women, babies, and young children.

Other Stumbles Over Protecting Public Health

On the April 2, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace grilled Scott Pruitt about the executive order Trump signed seeking to eliminate the Clean Power Plan. When Wallace asked why Trump opposed a plan that could prevent hundreds of thousands of asthma attacks, Pruitt responded they were fighting “regulatory overreach.”

“But sir, you’re giving me a regulatory answer, a political answer,” Wallace shot back at Pruitt. “You’re not giving a health answer.”

Finally, Trump’s proposed draconian cuts to the EPA budget would end two programs seeking to limit children’s exposure to lead-based paint. The neurotoxin is known to cause damage to developing brains and nervous systems.

“Basically, this is the guts of the program that protects kids from lead poisoning from paint,” Erik Olson, NRDC’s health program director, told the Washington Post.

In these times in which our health and environment are under assault by Trump and congressional Republicans, NRDC has prepared a list of other far-ranging threats. And we will be vigilantly monitoring and reporting on the administration’s attack on the environment through Trump Watch.