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New report on U.S. climate litigation in the Trump era


New report on U.S. climate litigation in the Trump era

Author: Korey Silverman-Roati
|June 23, 2021

Litigation lawyers’ response to the Trump administration Climate deregulation During the four years of government administration, the agenda was promoted by filing hundreds of lawsuits across the United States. A new Sabine Center white paper released today, U.S. climate litigation in the Trump era: full deadline, An inventory of 378 U.S. climate cases that responded to or interacted with federal policies and laws during the Trump administration. In the last two years, there has been an increase in cases, with 219 cases filed from 2019 to the end of the term.

“Pros” climate protection cases accounted for the vast majority of cases submitted, accounting for 89%. 11% of people tried to strengthen the government’s efforts to deregulate the climate, which are classified as “scam” cases here. In the last two years of the government, “pro” cases have increased, accounting for 94% of the cases filed.

Based on the previous two reports, from the first year with the second year On the government side, the new report divides the cases into five overall responses to Trump’s climate deregulation policies. they are:

  1. Defend the climate change policies and decisions of the Obama administration;
  2. Require the Trump administration’s transparency and scientific integrity;
  3. Incorporate climate change considerations into environmental reviews and permits;
  4. Advance or enforce additional climate protection measures through the courts; and
  5. Relax control of climate change, undermine climate protection, or target climate protection supporters.

The first four categories describe “in favor of” climate protection claims. If successful, the litigation will strengthen climate regulation or protection. The fifth and final category includes all “scam” cases. If successful, the litigation will support deregulation of climate and undermine climate protection. The proportion of cases in each category is shown in Figure 1 below.

In addition to the five main categories mentioned above, the report further categorizes cases based on the plaintiff, defendant, department and relevant laws. Some key points are described here, and more detailed information and graphs are provided in the report.

Each of the 378 cases was assigned a major category. The four “pro” climate protection categories are marked with blue shading, and one “con” climate protection category is marked with orange shading. For basic data, please refer to the report.

In the “pro” climate case, NGOs are the applicants for approximately three-quarters of claims, accounting for 78%, followed by government entities (27%), individuals (9%) and industry (5%). Among the “scam” climate cases, industry groups submitted the most cases (65%), followed by NGOs (23%), governments (16%) and individuals (14%).

In the vast majority of claims (84%), the parties listed the federal government as the defendant. Among the agencies being sued, the parties mentioned the Ministry of the Interior most frequently (35% of cases), followed by the Environmental Protection Agency (17%). Although they account for a low percentage of the total, lawsuits against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Transportation increased in the last two years.

Disputes most often invoke federal environmental laws (66% of cases) and administrative laws (48% of cases). In the last two years of the Trump administration, the number of people citing federal energy laws (8 in the first two years and 21 in the next two years) and federal environmental laws (76% of cases in the last two years) has increased significantly.

The report includes an appendix with case information and links to all 378 cases at Sabin Center/Arnold & Porter U.S. Climate Change Litigation DatabaseFurther analysis can be based on data to provide a more comprehensive picture of the climate litigation during Trump’s four-year administration.

This story was originally published by the Sabine Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University.

Korey Silverman-Roati is a climate law researcher at the Sabine Center.




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