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Environment & Energy Report

Justice Seeks More Money to Defend Trump Environmental Policies

Feb. 11, 2020, 3:48 PM

The Justice Department is asking Congress for an infusion of cash to help defend the Trump administration’s environmental agenda.

The fiscal 2021 budget request seeks $796,000 for the department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division to support its defense of the Trump administration’s pollution control and “regulatory reform” agenda.

“Virtually every significant agency action implementing this agenda has been or will be challenged,” the division said in its Monday request.

“This increased workload,” it added, “is no longer sustainable and additional resources are necessary for ENRD to continue to be able to allow the best possible defense of the Administration’s priority actions.”

ENRD defends the Environmental Protection Agency, the Interior Department, and other agencies in court, and pursues litigation against polluters and others who allegedly violate environmental laws.

The division wants to add five attorneys, two paralegals, and other potential staff to support an initiative—dubbed the “Smart, Responsible, Common-Sense, Effective Approach to Environmental Litigation"—focused on defending the Trump administration’s policies.

Justice Department lawyers in the division are already busy defending some of President Donald Trump’s priorities, including the rollback of Obama-era climate and public land protections. More high-stakes litigation is expected this year after agencies finalize new vehicle emissions standards, water protections, and other policies.

The division also handles land acquisition for the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

Overall, ENRD is seeking to increase the $109.4 million enacted for fiscal 2020 by about $4 million to cover increases in pay, benefits, and other “base adjustments” on top of the nearly $800,000 increase for defending the administration’s policies.

The Justice Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for more information about the budget request.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ellen M. Gilmer in Washington at egilmer@bloombergenvironment.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Gregory Henderson at ghenderson@bloombergenvironment.com; Renee Schoof at rschoof@bloombergenvironment.com; Anna Yukhananov at ayukhananov@bloombergenvironment.com

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