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Report: Trump Administration Yet To Defend Any Climate-Related Rollbacks In Court

Cases were assigned to a single category. Blue indicates "pro" cases in favor of climate-related protections and orange indicates "con" cases opposing climate-related protections.
Dena Adler

A new report from Columbia University's Sabin Center for Climate Change Law finds the Trump administration has yet to score a court victory upholding their efforts to roll back major regulations related to climate change. It shows the administration has failed in court to defend 10 of 12 attempts to delay or roll back climate protections with two still pending an initial court decision on the merits.

Author of the report, Columbia University climate law fellow, Dena Adler said the report shows courts are reinforcing that federal policy can't be removed in one flick of the pen.

"It's important to see that the courts are holding the administration to follow the proper procedures to provide a rational basis for changing policies," Adler said. "It's not surprising that the court has been a check on the Trump administration's efforts to roll back policy beyond its authority under administrative and statutory law. We've seen the courts uphold these rules in previous administrations."

Of the 12 cases, courts have rejected attempts to delay an Obama-era regulation limiting methane emissions, the implementation of higher energy efficiency standards, and ruled against a weakened pollution standard for a certain kind of truck. The report also looked at cases involving climate change that didn’t directly connect with the Trump Administration.

For instance, Adler found the overall number of cases enforcing climate protections increased in 2018 over the year before. The report mentions courts continue to request deeper analysis of greenhouse gas emissions in federal oil and gas projects, including on Wyoming projects.

The Interior Department is currently working through a court-mandated climate analysis. It needs to look at the impacts of lifting the Obama-era federal coal moratorium.

CORRECTION: The original story stated the Trump Administration had yet to succeed in rolling back climate related regulations, rather than succeed in defending its rollbacks in court. 

Before Wyoming, Cooper McKim has reported for NPR stations in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and South Carolina. He's reported breaking news segments and features for several national NPR news programs. Cooper is the host of the limited podcast series Carbon Valley. Cooper studied Environmental Policy and Music. He's an avid jazz piano player, backpacker, and podcast listener.
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