A group of Democratic state attorneys general has taken 80 legal actions against the Trump administration over environmental policies, and is promising even more.
Whether or not you side with the Trump administration or the multiple Attorney Generals gearing up for a widespread attack on the Trump administration, this article is a really interesting look into how the branches of government can work with the various levels of government to enact real change. Unlike our members of Congress, Attorney Generals are not necessarily elected based on how they impact legislation. Essentially, they are doing the things that Congress should be by using the Court system to achieve their goals. They know they cannot go into the Capitol building and work to get new laws passed that would override Trump’s EPA. Instead, they are using the law, the thing they have been trained in for most of their careers, to at the very least halt some of President Trump’s initiatives. Personally, this makes me think of the impact that the power to nominate judges really can have for the Trump administration. Trump is not only tied up in the courts when it comes to the environment, but he is also tied up in the courts for his immigration initiatives. It seems that the Trump administration is battling wars on many fronts when it comes to his policy agendas. In my opinion, compromising on environmental policy would seem to be an easy way for Trump to win at least one of these wars. He could manage to find a way for both industry leaders and environmentalists by at the very least not reversing all Obama era regulations simply because they came from the Obama era. I think it will be interesting to see how thin the Trump administration will be stretched if they continue getting challenged throughout the judiciary.
This case of attorneys general suing the federal government is a classic example of state government priorities being at odds with the federal government. In this case, it happens to be disagreements with the EPA scaling back environmental regulations. One thing that I find ironic about this is that the current administrator of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, sued the agency that he currently leads 14 times as Oklahoma’s Attorney General.
It is hard to judge whether these challenges will be successful or unsuccessful in court. There are still plenty of federal judges appointed during the Obama presidency that are still on the bench and may rule in favor of these attorneys general. On the other hand, the Trump administration has made no secret of its intentions to fill some federal judgeship vacancies with conservative judges; judges that may rule against these legal challenges. As the Trump presidency is only in its first year, the administration will face plenty of legal challenges as it seeks to scale back on environmental regulation.