Guest post from Mark Langgin, Citizens for a Healthy Iowa
Next week Senator Chuck Grassley will chair hearings considering Judge Neil Gorsuch for an appointment to the Supreme Court. Gorsuch was nominated by President Trump, who was chosen to be a rubber stamp as his administration moves to dismantle longstanding environmental protections. Judge Gorsuch’s philosophy on environmental protections is squarely on the side of polluters versus safeguarding clean air and water. He has repeatedly turned away challenges by groups seeking to protect natural resources and would undermine agencies’ abilities to enforce our laws.
These cases in particular highlight Judge Gorsuch’s dangerous record, as analyzed by the Alliance for Justice:
In Wilderness Society v. Kane County, Judge Gorsuch dismissed an effort by environmental organizations to protect a wilderness area. Kane County, Utah removed signs put up by the federal government, prohibiting off-road vehicles in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and three other federally managed parks. The county also passed an ordinance legalizing its actions. The environmental groups sued to protect the areas from off-road vehicles, saying the county had no right to overrule federal law. But the Tenth Circuit threw out the claim, saying the groups did not have grounds to sue.
In New Mexico Off-Highway Vehicle Alliance v. U.S. Forest Service, Judge Gorsuch went against the majority when two members of a three-judge panel ruled to allow environmental groups to be involved in a case about protecting the Santa Fe National Forest. The off-road drivers were challenging Forest Service efforts to limit the routes available to motorized vehicles in the National Forest. The court majority said three environmental groups, the Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, and WildEarth Guardians, had the right to take part in the case to protect their interests. Judge Gorsuch, however, claimed there was no real difference between the Forest Service and the groups, and that the environmental groups should not be allowed to take part.
And Judge Gorsuch’s views on federal agencies could result in rolling back protections for clean air and water. He believes in restricting the ability of agency experts, like scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to properly implement important acts of Congress and enforce protections designed to keep our communities safe. Judge Gorsuch wrote extensively about his legal views on these issues in the 2015 case United States v. Nichols and the 2016 case Gutierrez-Brizuela v. Lynch. If his views became law, it would be harder for the EPA to enforce laws that keep our air and water clean and safe.
Even Justice Scalia, who Gorsuch would replace, defended the need for judges to defer to agency experts. Gorsuch has ruled time after time with corporate interests, including polluters with no regard for stewardship of our environment. HIs nomination should be opposed.
by Mark Langgin