Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division Publishes Accomplishments Report

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The Department of Justice’s Energy and Natural Resources Division (ENRD) published a 64-page report on Earth Day detailing its accomplishments in fiscal year 2019 to enforce the nation’s environmental, public lands, and natural resource laws, defend executive agency prerogatives under federal statutory and constitutional law, and support regulatory reform, energy infrastructure development, and national security.

Jeffrey Bossert Clark, Assistant Attorney General for ENRD, said in a press release accompanying the report, “I continue to believe that environmental law must always be guided by the bedrock principles enshrined in our Constitution. These principles have guided our nation for almost a quarter of a millennium, and they serve as a guidepost for everything we do in ENRD.”

Although it remains to be seen whether ENRD will prevail in litigation challenging the administration’s Affordable Clean Energy and Safer Affordable Fuel Efficient Vehicles Rule, the division successfully defended the United States in the Kids’ Climate Suit (Juliana v. United States).

Plaintiffs claimed climate change violates their constitutional rights and asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to bar federal agencies from approving coal mining on federal lands or oil and natural gas extraction and transportation requiring federal approvals. As described in the report: “The Division persuaded the Ninth Circuit to dismiss the case for lack of Article III standing because plaintiffs sought relief that no court could grant. The Ninth Circuit explained that plaintiffs must make their case to the electorate or pursue their political objectives in the executive and legislative branches.”​