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mid the tumult following the election of Donald Trump, one certainty emerged right away: NRDC’s lawyers were going to be spending a lot of time in federal court over the next four years. As a candidate, Trump had made no secret of his hostility toward environmental protection, whether he was deriding climate change as “a hoax” or thundering about a return to dirty coal. Then, as his administration took shape — led by a cabinet of billionaires and chockablock with anti-environment extremists — it quickly began firing the opening salvos in a scorched-earth strategy to destroy President Obama’s landmark achievements and roll back 50 years of environmental progress. With both the executive and legislative branches of the federal government in the fevered grip of radical anti-environmentalism, “we knew from the getgo that if we were going to wage an aggressive

The sheer scale of this onslaught means that we have to be prepared to wage scores of expensive courtroom battles simultaneously. counterattack, those battles would most effectively be fought in the federal courts,” says Mitch Bernard, NRDC’s chief counsel. “We had to hit the ground running and let this administration know right away that we mean business.” Indeed, NRDC was the first organization to file an environmental lawsuit against the Trump Administration, going to court just two weeks after Inauguration Day to halt the Trump EPA

NRDC has filed suit to stop President Trump from opening vast swaths of the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans to offshore drilling.

from illegally rolling back safeguards against mercury pollution. That was followed in short order by a slew of other NRDC legal challenges aimed at stopping the Trump Administration from green-lighting the Keystone XL pipeline, dismantling President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, stalling energy efficiency standards, refusing to ban a pesticide linked to learning disabilities in children, freezing federal protections for an endangered bumblebee and more. With the pace of legal warfare escalating dramatically, Bernard now expects the NRDC docket will grow to more than 100 active cases in the first year of the Trump presidency. It’s all part of NRDC’s aggressive, three-prong legal strategy: defend the landmark achievements of the Obama Administration, protect the public and hold polluters accountable when the Trump EPA refuses to enforce the law, and repel attempts by the White House and Congress to undermine our bedrock environmental laws. “Taking on the toughest courtroom fights is in our DNA,” says Bernard. “At the birth of NRDC almost 50 years ago, we helped write our nation’s environmental

laws and then went out and won dozens of the cornerstone legal victories that protect our nation’s air, water, wildlife and public lands. No group is better prepared than NRDC to back down the Trump Administration in court. But the sheer scale of this onslaught means that we have to be prepared to wage scores of expensive courtroom battles simultaneously.” To that end, NRDC has established the Stop Trump Legal Fund, devoted exclusively to expanding our litigation team so it can rapidly deploy attorneys whenever and wherever the Trump Administration strikes next. “Counterattacking on so many fronts at once is going to require unprecedented resources,” says Bernard. NRDC has set a $1 million fundraising goal for Members to help fill this legal war chest. The need couldn’t be more urgent. Another fusillade of attacks from the Trump Administration — some launched, some on the way — will demand a swift NRDC response in federal court. Trump has already lifted President Obama’s coal leasing moratorium, exposing the gateway to Bryce Canyon National Park to strip mining. We’ll also need to challenge

his expected rollback of Obama’s clean car rules, which threatens more dependence on climatedestroying fossil fuels. We’re expecting Trump to flash the green light for rampant oil and gas drilling in national wildlife refuges, endangering a wide array of species from coast to coast. And we must be fully prepared to defend the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans when the White House attempts to reverse the ban on drilling in those treasured marine environments. This initial barrage of attacks is largely focused on destroying President Obama’s environmental legacy. But NRDC litigators are expecting a second wave to follow hard on the first. “Once Trump’s appointees fully staff up their agencies,” says Bernard, “they are sure to issue a flood of pro-industry rules that would endanger all Americans with vastly more pollution. NRDC will need to challenge them, rule by rule.”

Port Arthur, Texas, is one of many frontline communities that stand to suffer more from Trump’s policies.

No less urgent: standing up for vulnerable citizens and frontline communities that would suffer first and most from Trump’s big-polluter policies. Draconian budget cuts proposed by the president would gut the EPA’s ability to enforce environmental laws and to hold corporate polluters accountable. “NRDC will step into that [Continued on next page.]


NRDC Unveils Legal Strategy to Stop the Trump Onslaught A

Nature's Voice Summer 2017  


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