Overnight Energy: Trump's 2-for-1 regs order survives legal challenge | Justices reject water transfer case | Farm groups press Trump to keep biofuel mandate | Record number of EPA transparency lawsuits

Overnight Energy: Trump's 2-for-1 regs order survives legal challenge | Justices reject water transfer case | Farm groups press Trump to keep biofuel mandate | Record number of EPA transparency lawsuits
© Greg Nash

TRUMP'S 2-FOR-1 REG ORDER SURVIVES CHALLENGE: A federal district court judge on Monday dismissed a challenge to President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 panel faces double-edged sword with Alex Jones, Roger Stone Trump goes after Woodward, Costa over China Republicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves MORE's executive order directing federal agency heads to eliminate two rules for every new rule proposed.

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Randolph Moss said Public Citizen, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Communication Workers of America, AFL-CIO failed to prove their members will be harmed by the president's orders, which is a burden of proof required to bring a lawsuit.

The public interest groups argued they had "organizational standing" because the order has a chilling effect on their respective missions to encourage agencies to adopt regulations designed to protect public health and safety, the environment and workers' rights.

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The groups argued in court documents that Trump's action forces them to evaluate whether losing two rules is worth the benefit of a new one before lobbying for an agency action.

But Moss said the groups did not show that this concern has or will keep them from pursuing new protections.

"This is not to say that a plaintiff--or, indeed, that the present plaintiffs--will never be able to establish standing to challenge the Executive Order," he wrote.

"On the present record, however, the Court must conclude that it lacks jurisdiction."

Read more here.

 

SCOTUS WON'T TAKE WATER 'TRANSFER' CASE: The Supreme Court declined Monday to hear a case challenging an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule that allows governments to transfer water between water bodies with few restrictions.

The decision leaves in place a ruling from the Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, which last year upheld the 2008 rule.

The Clean Water Act usually prohibits dumping pollutants into waterways regulated by the federal government. But under the so-called Water Transfers Rule, cities and states can move water between lakes, rivers and other water bodies without getting a discharge permit.

Environmentalists and some Democratic states sued to stop the rule, saying it improperly permits dirtier water to enter cleaner waterways. The initial judge on the case overturned the rule, but the 2nd Circuit Court disagreed on appeal, leading to the Supreme Court request.

Read more here.

 

FOIA LAWSUITS FILED AGAINST EPA HIGHEST IN TWO DECADES: A record number of anti-secrecy lawsuits were filed in 2017 against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittUnderstanding the barriers between scientists, the public and the truth Overnight Energy & Environment — Biden makes return to pre-Trump national monument boundaries official Trump-era EPA board member sues over firing MORE, Politico reported Monday.

Forty-six open records lawsuits were filed against the EPA in 2017, according to data from the FOIA Project at the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, with a total of 55 open records lawsuits filed against the agency since President Trump took office.

The next busiest year on record was 2015, when 22 lawsuits were filed after the Obama EPA finalized major rules on wetlands protection and power plant emissions. By comparison, former President George W. Bush's EPA faced only 57 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits during his entire eight-year presidency.

Lawsuits are typically brought against agencies to force the release of data from FOIA requests, and are usually a final recourse for requesters after agencies fail to release public information in a timely manner as mandated by law.

The EPA blames the FOIA backlog on requests left over from the Obama administration, saying that, as of Monday, 60 percent of the 650 cases left over from the previous administration have been closed.

The agency also blames the slowdown on the increased number of requests, as well as their complexity.

"EPA has and continues to receive more FOIAs than it has in previous years. FOIA requests and responses have been more complex, requiring additional time and effort; and, some require additional consultation with multiple offices and federal agencies. Recognizing the need to address the backlog, EPA's Strategic Plan Transformation Strategy includes: reducing the backlog and meeting statutory deadlines for responding to FOIA requests and appeals. This is the first time the Agency has committed to eliminating the FOIA backlog in such a transparent and accountable way," EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman said in a statement.

Read more here.

 

ON TAP TUESDAY I: The House Energy and Commerce Committee's energy subcommittee will hold a hearing on the state of the United States' energy infrastructure.

 

ON TAP TUESDAY II: The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on the impact to U.S. geopolitics from liquefied natural gas exports.

 

Rest of Tuesday's agenda ...

The House Natural Resources Committee's subpanel on water, power and oceans will hold a hearing on two bills within its jurisdiction.

 

AROUND THE WEB:

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill to tighten dam inspection rules in the wake of the Oroville Dam crisis, the Sacramento Bee reports.

Residents in western Alaska are experiencing unusually warm temperatures, with sea ice cover at historic lows, KTOO reports.

The New York Times headed to West Virginia and found that many residents aren't taking former coal CEO Don Blankenship's Senate candidacy as a joke.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out stories from Monday and the weekend ...

-Trump administration passes rule requiring sounds in 'quiet cars' by 2020

-Russia trying to sway US opinion on GMOs, researchers say

-Farm groups urge Trump to keep federal biofuel mandate

-Trump: 'We make better solar panels than China'

-EPA faces record number of transparency lawsuits

-Court tosses challenge to Trump's two-for-one regulatory order

-Supreme Court rejects case challenging EPA water regulation

-Week ahead: Lawmakers put spotlight on energy infrastructure