Public Citizen Is Suing Donald Trump for Endangering the Environment
March 7, 2017
Robert Weissman / Public Citizen
A new lawsuit, Public Citizen v. Donald J. Trump, takes direct aim at Trump's most brazen gift to Big Business yet. Via a unilateral directive issued on his second week in office, Trump decreed that for any new regulation enacted, two or more existing public protections would have to be eliminated. Trump's executive order mandated the elimination of existing rules for the purpose of offsetting the costs of new rules -- while ignoring the benefits -- even if the existing rules are entirely unrelated.
Public Citizen Has Sued Donald Trump
Robert Weissman / Public Citizen
Public Citizen is suing Donald Trump. This is big.
Together, we are standing up to the Trump Regime!
(March 6, 2017) -- Our lawsuit -- Public Citizen v. Donald J. Trump -- takes direct aim at the president's most brazen gift to Big Business yet.
Via a unilateral directive issued in just his second week in office, Trump decreed that for any new regulation to take effect, two or more existing public protections would have to be eliminated.
Even worse, Trump's executive order mandated the elimination of existing rules for the purpose of offsetting the costs of new rules -- while ignoring the benefits -- even if the existing rules are entirely unrelated.
Trump's executive order is plain crazy . . . unless the motive is really to make it almost impossible for We the People to protect ourselves from dangerous products, risks to public health and the effects of climate change.
In Public Citizen v. Donald J. Trump, we argue that this executive order will require federal agencies to violate numerous statutes.
* Many laws task agencies with issuing rules. None of those laws permits an agency to consider the costs of unrelated rules when deciding whether to issue new ones.
* For example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issues car safety standards. It has proposed that new cars be required to have devices that let them "talk" to each other about speed, direction, braking status and the like.
* NHTSA estimates the devices could prevent nearly half a million crashes and save roughly 1,000 lives a year. Drivers could save as much as $71 billion -- more than 10 times the cost.
* But under Trump's absurd edict, NHTSA cannot issue that new standard unless it can find other rules to eliminate, in a process that focuses on costs and ignores benefits -- money saved, crashes avoided, lives spared -- of both the new and existing standards.
* It's an impossible trade-off that requires the agency to make arbitrary decisions, in violation of the law and the agency's responsibility to issue motor vehicle safety standards.
So this is no abstraction -- it's a matter of life and death.
As explained in our lawsuit, by requiring agencies to consider factors that are not permitted under the law, the executive order usurps congressional power and violates the president's constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.
There's a great deal at stake here.
Our lawsuit lists numerous currently planned rules that would be affected -- delayed, weakened or deterred -- due to Trump's disastrous executive order:
* new limits on workplace exposures to the hazardous chemical styrene
* new standards to prevent health workers from exposure to infectious diseases
* a rule to prevent mining equipment from crushing miners
* implementation of the newly amended Toxic Substances Control Act, under which the Environmental Protection Agency regulates toxic chemicals
* a measure to avert oil train derailments and explosions
* energy efficiency standards that would save consumers billions of dollars
* endangered species protections
* new clean air standards
We don't know how this lawsuit is going to turn out. The Trump administration will of course push back. Our crack litigators will make the most persuasive arguments possible, but it's going to take a massive effort to fight what Trump is trying to get away with here.
The case will move forward over the months ahead with an exchange of legal filings. After the trial court judge decides the case, either side may and likely will appeal.
We're in this for as long as it takes. It's never easy suing the government. It's not going to be easy suing Donald Trump.
Now is a time in American history when defending the things we cherish most requires doing things that aren't easy.
If you can, please make a contribution today to help us stand up to the Trump Regime.
Robert Weissman is the president of Public Citizen
Copyright 2017 Public Citizen, 1600 20th Street, NW / Washington, D.C. 20009