En­vi­ron­men­tal­ists ready to bat­tle Trump, GOP in court

Pawtucket Times - - FROM PAGE ONE/NATION -

CHICAGO (AP) — The night be­fore Don­ald Trump's in­au­gu­ra­tion, five en­vi­ron­men­tal lawyers filed a fed­eral court brief de­fend­ing an Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion clean­wa­ter rule that the new pres­i­dent and his Repub­li­can al­lies have tar­geted for elim­i­na­tion, con­sid­er­ing it bur­den­some to landown­ers.

The move served as a warn­ing that en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists, fac­ing a hos­tile ad­min­is­tra­tion and a Repub­li­can-dom­i­nated Congress, are pre­pared to bat­tle in court against what they fear will be a wave of un­fa­vor­able poli­cies con­cern­ing cli­mate change, wildlife pro­tec­tion, fed­eral lands and pol­lu­tion.

Ad­vo­cacy groups na­tion­wide are hir­ing more staff lawyers. They're co­or­di­nat­ing with pri­vate at­tor­neys and firms that have vol­un­teered to help. They're re­view­ing statutes, set­ting priorities and seek­ing do­na­tions.

"It's go­ing to be all-out war," said Ver­mont Law School Pro­fes­sor Pa­trick Par­enteau. "If you're an en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist or con­ser­va­tion­ist, this is in­deed a scary time."

Trump's first week in of­fice only height­ened their anx­i­eties. He moved to re­sume con­struc­tion of the Key­stone XL and Dakota Ac­cess pipe­lines that the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion had halted, while sig­nal­ing in­ten­tions to aban­don his pre­de­ces­sor's fight against global warm­ing, vastly ex­pand oil and gas drilling on pub­lic lands and slash the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency's bud­get.

GOP law­mak­ers, mean­while, in­tro­duced mea­sures to over­turn a new In­te­rior De­part­ment rule bar­ring coal min­ing com­pa­nies from dam­ag­ing streams and to re­move some wolves from the en­dan­gered species list.

"They've wasted no time in do­ing bad things," said Pat Gal­lagher, di­rec­tor of the Sierra Club's 50-mem­ber le­gal team, which he said is likely to grow as en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists in­creas­ingly re­gard the courts as their best op­tion, even though suc­cess there is far from cer­tain.

The De­part­ment of Jus­tice, which rep­re­sents the fed­eral gov­ern­ment in en­vi­ron­men­tal law­suits, de­clined to com­ment, while the White House did not re­spond to emails seek­ing com­ment. Doug Erick­sen, communications di­rec­tor for Trump's tran­si­tion team at EPA, said of the en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists that he's "not sure what they think they're pre­par­ing for."

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