NELC Advances, While EPA Retreats
In the past year, the news on the environment out of Washington, D.C., has been relentlessly bleak:
- President Trump pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement and pledging to scrap the Clean Power Plan;
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt naming industry lobbyists and climate deniers to crucial regulatory and scientific posts, even as proposed budget cuts threaten to cripple EPA’s core staff and functions;
- Rollbacks of environmental and public health protections; and
- A steep drop in EPA enforcement to stop illegal pollution.
As President Trump’s EPA moves to abdicate its primary role in enforcement of our cornerstone environmental laws, the need for citizen enforcement has never been greater. And NELC’s small but hardworking staff is stepping up to fill the gap.
We told you recently about NELC’s precedent-setting judgment against ExxonMobil Corporation in Houston, Texas, where a federal judge fined Exxon a record $19.95 million for violating the federal Clean Air Act more than 16,000 times and releasing over 10 million pounds of illegal pollution into surrounding neighborhoods.
Now, three major NELC lawsuits, filed in three different states, target three more of the biggest companies in the world for illegal pollution of our air and water.
As we prepare to defend the Exxon judgment against the company’s appeal, each of these other cases is moving rapidly toward settlement—settlements that would benefit public health and the environment, and send a clear and a desperately needed message to corporate polluters elsewhere.