U.S. Climate Litigation in the Age of Trump: Full Term

Silverman-Roati, Korey G.

In response to a presidential administration uniquely committed to climate deregulation, hundreds of litigants turned to the judiciary. At least 378 cases filed in courts across the United States responded to or interacted with the Trump administration’s agenda of climate deregulation. Of those, 89% aimed at climate protection or weakening climate deregulation and 11% aimed at furthering climate deregulation or undermining those seeking climate protection. Pro-climate protection plaintiffs filed the greatest number of cases aiming to integrate climate change into environmental review and permitting, but also filed cases in significant numbers to defend climate policies, demand transparency, and advance climate protections. The most common plaintiffs/petitioners in “pro” cases were NGOs, followed next by government entities, and the most common filing parties in “con” cases were industry actors. The federal government was by far the most common defendant in all cases, with the Department of Interior the most sued agency. In terms of the sectors implicated in the cases, the highest number raised claims based on the climate impacts on the environment, and the second highest number involved fossil fuel development. Litigants based their suits on federal environmental statutes and administrative law in high numbers, and cited the National Environmental Policy Act most often in their suits. Many of these trends reflect high numbers of cases filed by NGOs against the federal government alleging unlawful failure to consider climate change in their permitting of fossil fuel projects, or in their decisions regarding endangered species.


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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
June 23, 2021


Keywords: climate change, climate litigation, climate deregulation, litigation, environmental law