It is becoming clearer each day that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and the Trump administration are determinedly seeking to dismantle our federal system of environmental protection. What’s even clearer is that taking them to court is the only way to stop them.
That’s why, this June, CFE/Save the Sound filed two lawsuits against the Trump administration.
Legal director Roger Reynolds explains:
What the administration did not realize when it came into office, and what it still fails to account for, is that eliminating environmental regulations requires the same process and scrutiny as creating them – it the EPA must follow the requirements of the environmental laws and must be based upon real scientific information.
The Trump administration has already begun the process to repeal the Clean Power Plan and the Waters of the United States Rule, which were put into place to comply with federal law mandates to ensure clean air and water. The Clean Power Plan would have helped to fulfill the United States’ commitments under the Paris Climate Accord. We will be working with regional and federal allies to challenge these measures and ensure they do not go through. Just last week, there was a positive development: the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (often considered the most powerful court in the country after the Supreme Court) upheld a challenge by six environmental groups and blocked Pruitt’s attempt to stay a rule on methane emissions, finding that Pruitt’s decision was arbitrary and not based on federal law or science.
Now back to our Connecticut and Long Island Sound based lawsuits.
On June 29, we filed suit against the EPA, alleging that EPA is failing to protect the health of people who swim, boat, and fish in New York City waters by not forcing New York State to update its decades-old water quality standards. The EPA and New York State are responsible for ensuring that New York City fixes the untreated sewage overflows that contaminate the City’s waters scores of times each year. But the EPA has allowed the State to use dangerously outdated water quality standards that do not protect those who come into contact with the water from bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens that cause intestinal illnesses, rashes, and infections. The pollution also has ecological impacts, as excess nitrogen in sewage fuels algae blooms and low-oxygen dead zones in Long Island Sound.
CFE/Save the Sound also intervened as full parties in the State of Connecticut’s recent air pollution lawsuit against the EPA. Attorney General George Jepsen petitioned the EPA in June 2016 to take action to stop downwind ozone pollution from Brunner Island power plant in Pennsylvania. Pollutants emitted by the coal-fired plant are carried by air currents to Connecticut, where they contribute to ozone non-compliance and health problems stemming from air pollution, such as asthma. EPA failed to act on Connecticut’s petition in time. We joined the State in this lawsuit on behalf of CFE/Save the Sound members and as local counsel for the Sierra Club to counter the Pennsylvania coal plant’s arguments and to underscore the importance of EPA action to protect Connecticut’s air. It’s still early in this administration’s tenure, and most challenges are yet to come. We’ll keep you updated about the cases above and other legal actions to protect your land, air, and water around Connecticut and the Sound region
By Roger Reynolds, legal director, CFE/Save the Sound