One of the primary campaign promises made by Donald Trump was the repeal of the strict emissions standards put in place by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) during the Obama administration. Following his election, Trump nominated Scott Pruitt, the Attorney General for Oklahoma and a noted EPA opponent, for head of the EPA. Pruitt was approved, and in accordance with Trump’s promises, the EPA notified the public that it would begin rolling back those emissions standards.
Opponents of the rollback began to organize shortly following the announcement. Unsurprisingly, electric automakers have been leading the charge. However, state utilities have joined with the automakers to challenge the rollback, with many of the utilities viewing electric vehicles as a new revenue stream in a world where household efficiencies and an increase in the use of solar panels have caused revenues to stagnate. EPA’s decision to roll back efficiency requirements puts state utilities in a position to lose even more revenue.
In any situation where individuals or organizations desire to stop a governmental agency from taking certain action, appeal must be made to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The D.C. Court of Appeals is responsible for directly reviewing the decisions and rulemaking of federal agencies, meaning that any legal challenge to the EPA’s decision has to be made in this court.
However, the process of rolling back regulations is not as simple as tearing pages out of a book. To repeal regulations that were properly issued, the agency seeking to make the changes must go through the same process as it would if it were imposing more regulations. This includes the “notice and comment” period, where the proposed changes must be presented to the public and other stakeholders and be open for a period of feedback. The agency must also gather evidence that supports the proposed change so that it can survive any court challenge that the change being made for purely political reasons or is arbitrary or impulsive and baseless.
Appeals of federal regulations require a practiced hand to ensure that the challenge is properly and timely filed, and that it includes the evidence and arguments necessary to convince an appeals judge of the inappropriateness of the change. Ensuring that you have engaged experienced counsel will greatly increase the likelihood of success on appeal.
Glenn Ivey is a criminal defense attorney focused on white collar crimes, Congressional and grand jury investigations, civil litigation, and regulatory matters. Attorney Ivey has been twice elected State’s Attorney in Prince George’s County and can be found on Facebook and YouTube.