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On Earth Day, judges matter

This past Sunday, an estimated one billion people in 192 countries celebrated Earth Day by planting trees, cleaning up parks and showing their support for the environment. But here in the U.S., all the environmental progress we’ve made over the last few decades is under attack. Our federal courts currently stand as a bulwark, defending protections that keep our water and air clean and our wild places intact, but those defenses are at risk.

Most people know that President Donald Trump has appointed climate-change deniers to key posts in his administration: Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Ryan Zinke as Secretary of the Interior. These two have attacked environmental protections with a vengeance, slashing the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, auctioning oil and gas leases for 77 million acres of federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico and opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, just to list a few examples.

But what many people don’t realize is that the people Trump is nominating for lifetime federal judgeships are just as dangerous from an environmental standpoint. White House Counsel Don McGahn has stated that the goal of the administration’s judicial appointments is to create an environment friendly to dismantling the so-called “administrative state” – regulatory agencies and the health and safety rules they make. And Trump is nominating people who are eager to do just that. One judicial nominee, Texas’ Andy Oldham, is a prime example.