The Worst Judges On

Environment

Conservatives know that weakening protections for clean air and water — i.e. allowing corporations to dump toxins into our communities unchecked — is unpopular. The Trump Administration has sought out judicial nominees who have spent their careers fighting to rollback critical environmental protections.
Below are 15 Trump judges who, at the time of their confirmation, had records fighting clean air and water:

J. Campbell Barker (Eastern District of Texas) fought the Clean Power Plan, policies that limited the dumping of unlimited amounts of carbon into the atmosphere and that sought to curb global warming.

Andrew Brasher (Eleventh Circuit) fought the Clean Water Rule, which expanded protection for two million miles of streams and 20 million acres of wetlands, and attacked protections for endangered species.

Daniel Collins (Ninth Circuit) defended the oil company Shell in several cases, including a global warming case brought by the City of Oakland, a case brought by victims of Hurricane Katrina, and a suit brought by a Native Alaskan village alleging that oil companies’ contributions to global warming threatened the village’s very existence.

Allison Eid (Tenth Circuit) praised the Supreme Court’s decision that struck down the EPA’s migratory bird rule. On the Colorado Supreme Court, she held that a public hearing regarding the issuance of a permit to drill wells near a contaminated nuclear blast site was not necessary. She would have allowed a private company to use eminent domain to build a petroleum pipeline, while making it harder for communities to build parks.

Neil Gorsuch (Supreme Court), while on the Tenth Circuit, frequently turned away challenges by environmental groups seeking to protect natural resources and public land. Moreover, he has been skeptical of rules promulgated by environmental agencies designed to increase oversight of large corporations.

Brett Kavanaugh (Supreme Court), while on the D.C. Circuit, consistently overturned protections for clean air. For example, Kavanaugh rejected an EPA rule requiring that upwind states bear responsibility for their fair share of pollution they cause in downwind states, and was overturned by the Supreme Court. He also sided against the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases.

Joshua Kindred (District of Alaska) spent five years serving as Environmental Counsel to the Alaska Oil and Gas Association. While in that position, he fought against regulations aimed at protecting Alaska’s air, water, and wildlife. He fought for the approval of an arctic drilling project, aggressively opposed fracking regulations, and advocated for weakening regulations that implement the Clean Air Act.

Eric Murphy (Sixth Circuit) argued on behalf of states challenging the Clean Water Rule, which expanded protection for two million miles of streams and 20 million acres of wetlands. Murphy also fought the Clean Power Plan. During Murphy’s tenure as state solicitor, Ohio joined a multi-state brief that sought to weaken the Endangered Species Act.

Andrew Oldham (Fifth Circuit) questioned the legality of the entire EPA. He helped Texas sue to block the EPA from limiting pollution and enforcing the Clean Air Act.

Michael Park (Second Circuit) challenged the Clean Water Rule, which expanded protection for two million miles of streams and 20 million acres of wetlands.

Neomi Rao (D.C. Circuit) authored several articles expressing her disdain for environmentalism and her rejection of mainstream scientific theories. She wrote derisively of “[t]he three major environmental bogeymen, the greenhouse effect, the depleting ozone layer, and the dangers of acid rain.” She criticized environmental groups at Yale for “accept[ing] issues such as global warming as truth with no reference to the prevailing scientific doubts.” Rao also bashed environmental groups for “promot[ing] a dangerous orthodoxy that includes the unquestioning acceptance of controversial theories like the greenhouse effect.”

Lee Rudofsky (Eastern District of Arkansas) led the state of Arkansas in challenging the Clean Power Plan and criticized its efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. He also defended big oil corporations’ interests in challenging the Obama-era “stream protection rule,” and provided arguments against efforts to make coal mining more environmentally sound. He represented Arkansas in opposing the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for Ozone, as well as emissions standards for toxic air pollutants from power plants under the Clean Air Act. As solicitor general of Arkansas, Rudofsky’s office opposed the Endangered Species Act’s critical habitat designation.

Lawrence VanDyke (Ninth Circuit) filed an amicus brief challenging the Clean Power Plan. As Solicitor General of Nevada, he fought environmental protections aimed at curtailing pollution from mining into streams and waterways. He joined a lawsuit that sought to invalidate the Obama Administration’s expansion of the Clean Water Act. He also joined with three mining companies to oppose land use restrictions issued by the Department of the Interior. As Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Environmental and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice, VanDyke has defended the Trump administration against several lawsuits brought as a result of the administration’s efforts to tear down environmental regulations.

Allen Winsor (Northern District of Florida) sued the EPA to stop the Clean Power Plan.

Patrick Wyrick (Western District of Oklahoma) is a protégé of disgraced former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. While working as the Solicitor General for the State of Oklahoma, Wyrick assisted Pruitt in dismantling environmental protections and was part of exchanges between Pruitt and energy lobbyists.