The Trump administration has presented Americans with an array of issues to be concerned about. The belligerent businessman turned American chief executive has gone from threatening to ruin our relationships with foreign allies to threatening to allow the environment to go to ruins through such means as withdrawing the United States from the monumental Paris Climate Accord.
In the ongoing fight to save the environment that was only made more intense by the rise of Donald Trump to power, environmental advocacy groups have now been handed a victory by a federal judge out in Montana.
The Associated Press is reporting that U.S. District Judge Brian Morris has ruled that officials with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management must have options including reduced mining in the Powder River Basin on the table when making planning decisions for the area. According to Morris, failing to do so violates the National Environmental Policy Act, and the officials’ argument that they could simply take climate change into consideration when deliberating over possible individual mine expansions didn’t fly.
Environmental groups had been pushing to have mining completely halted in the region, but they still praised Morris’ decision.
Mike Scott with the Sierra Club commented:
‘For decades, the federal government has kept their head in the sand over the climate impacts of fossil fuel extraction on public land. This ruling is the latest example of courts forcing the federal government to be honest with the American public about how coal, oil and gas leasing is contributing to the growing impacts of climate change.’
40 percent of the nation’s coal comes from the area in question, according to the AP, and coal from the Powder River Basin is concurrently responsible for 13 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Morris did rule in favor of the Bureau of Land Management on another issue, saying that BLM planning in the area does not need to do more to offset methane emissions from oil and gas wells.
Morris’ ruling, demanding that the Bureau of Land Management consider reducing coal mining during its planning for the area, comes against a backdrop of moves to undercut the environment by the Trump administration.
For instance, the president announced last year that he intended to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord, although there’s more to withdrawal than a simple announcement.
In the face of him moving to relax some of the formal restrictions on the U.S. contribution to climate change, other interests like Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel picked up the slack. Emanuel made his own pact formalizing a commitment to climate change that is available for mayors to sign onto.
Other items that have been under attack by the Trump administration include environmental regulations like the Clean Power Plan and the Waters of the United States rule, both of which are important safety measures that Trump’s Environmental Protection Administration has moved to undo.
The running theme through the Trump administration’s attacks on environmental safety regulations is that they’re too restrictive for American businesses, making the rollbacks part of the president’s broadly protectionist policy stance.
Featured Image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images