U.S. Climate Change Litigation in the Age of Trump: Year One

Adler, Dena P.

In its first year, the Trump Administration undertook a program of extensive climate change deregulation. The Administration delayed and initiated the reversal of rules that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from stationary and mobile sources; sought to expedite fossil fuel development, including in previously protected areas; delayed or withdrew energy efficiency standards; undermined consideration of climate change in environmental review; and hindered adaptation to the impacts of climate change. However, the Trump Administration’s efforts have met with constant resistance, with those committed to climate protections bringing legal challenges to many, if not most, of the rollbacks.
This paper seeks to give shape to the current moment in climate change litigation, categorizing and reviewing dozens of climate change cases filed during 2017 to understand how litigation countered—and at times courted—the influx of climate change deregulation during the first year of the Trump Administration. The analysis focuses specifically on “climate change cases,” defined as cases that raise climate change as an issue of fact or law in the U.S. Climate Change Litigation database, maintained by the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law and Arnold & Porter. To explain the effects of climate change litigation in 2017, this paper sorted cases into five categories: 1) defending Obama Administration climate change policies & decisions; 2) demanding transparency & scientific integrity from the Trump Administration; 3) integrating consideration of climate change into environmental review & permitting; 4) advancing or enforcing additional climate protections through the courts; and 5) deregulating climate change, undermining climate protections, or targeting climate protection supporters.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Sabin Center for Climate Change Law
Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia University
Sabin Center for Climate Change Law White Papers
Published Here
February 26, 2019