Menendez, Booker, Pallone, Environmental Advocates Focus on #WhatsAtStake for New Jersey

Menendez, Booker, Pallone, Environmental Advocates Focus on #WhatsAtStake for New Jersey

Trump SCOTUS Nominee Has Dangerous Record of Putting Corporations, Polluters Ahead of Public Health, Clean Air, Clean Water Kavanaugh would vote to gut Federal Environmental Protections, Threaten NJ Coastline


BRICK, N.J. – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker along with U.S. Representative Frank Pallone (D-N.J.-06) rallied with environmental advocates to highlight what’s at stake for New Jersey’s coastline if Brett Kavanaugh replaces Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court. As a judge on the D.C. Circuit of Appeals, Kavanaugh undermined the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and supported corporate polluters who sought to gut the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts.

“At a time when the Trump Administration is actively working to lift limits on pollution, open protected waters up to offshore drilling and weaken environmental safeguards vital to public health, we must stand firmly on the side of New Jersey families and their right to clean air and water,” said Senator Menendez. “We must stand on the side of our fishermen and shore businesses that depend on healthy oceans. We must stand on the side of our children and uphold our promise to pass a healthier, safer planet to the next generation. And that means we must stand against the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.”

As a judge, Kavanaugh consistently ruled for the EPA when it relaxed regulations but ruled against the agency when it attempted to tighten or create environmental protections. Kavanaugh also sided with greedy corporations who want to gut the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts.

Joining the New Jersey lawmakers were leading environmental advocates from Sierra Club, Eastern Environmental Law Center and Clean Water Action.

“The Trump Administration is trying to undo decades of progress by appointing a judge who sides with corporate power and polluters over government or the people every time. Brett Kavanaugh is one of the worst nominees ever; he’s voted against regulating greenhouse gasses, including opposing the Clean Power Plan. He’ll try to use the court to repeal environmental protections and laws like the Clean Air and Clean Water Act,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “We’re calling on Congress to reject this nominee and protect the people of New Jersey by voting Kava-NO!”

"Judge Kavanaugh's narrow reading of critical environmental laws is a threat to our ability to timely address the severe adverse effects of climate change and other environmental insults," said Jennifer Danis of Eastern Environmental Law Center.

“With Kavanaugh's appointment, NJ and the nation could essentially lose a lifetime, 80 years, of environmental protections – i.e. 40 years of progress since the passage of the Clean Water Action and Safe Drinking Water Act in the 1970’s when our nation’s waters were literally burning and 40 years with Kavanaugh as a US Supreme Court judge, limiting agency discretion and powers to address environmental imperatives of the day,” said Amy Goldsmith of Clean Water Action.

Throughout his time in the Senate, Sen. Menendez has been a strong proponent of the EPA and has continuously stood up to Democratic and Republican administrations who seek to relax regulations that would lead to environmental and economic disaster for the Jersey Shore.

In January, Sens. Menendez and Booker along with Rep. Pallone stood up against President Trump when he announced the largest expansion of offshore drilling in decades in the Atlantic, Arctic and Pacific Oceans and the Gulf of Mexico, including in areas previously blocked off along the Jersey Shore and throughout the Atlantic from Florida to Maine.

Sens. Menendez and Booker and Rep. Pallone led the charge in 2015 to remove the Atlantic Ocean from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Draft Proposed Program (Five-Year Plan).
The New Jersey lawmakers also successfully convinced President Obama before leaving office to permanently ban oil and gas exploration in areas of the Atlantic Ocean by exercising the authority granted to him by Congress under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA).
In May, Sens. Menendez and Booker and Rep. Pallone reintroduced their Clean Ocean and Safe Tourism (COAST) Anti-Drilling Act that prohibits the U.S. Department of Interior from issuing leases for the exploration, development, or production of oil or gas in the North, Mid-, or South Atlantic Ocean or the Straits of Florida.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh

• Blocked rules regulating air pollution across state lines. Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA sets national standards for air pollutants, and each state is responsible for ensuring that the air quality within its borders meets those standards. Recognizing that air pollution travels from upwind to downwind states, upwind states must also bear responsibility for their fair share of the pollution they cause in downwind states, commonly referred to as the “good neighbor” provision. In EME Homer City Generation, LP v. Environmental Protection Agency (2012), Kavanaugh rejected the EPA’s “good neighbor” regulation to curb harmful emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide that cross state lines. He concluded EPA lacked authority to allocate emission reductions among upwind states, and blocked the implementation of air pollution restrictions covering nearly half of the country. Kavanaugh’s views were deemed too extreme even for the Supreme Court’s conservative justices, who reversed his opinion in a 6-2 decision noting Kavanaugh had improperly applied his own policy judgments rather than the plain text written by Congress.

• Severely limited EPA’s authority to regulate toxic emissions, mercury, and greenhouse gases. In Coalition for Responsible Regulation, Inc. v. EPA (2012), Kavanaugh disagreed with EPA’s longstanding interpretation that Congress directed the agency to act to control “any air pollutant,” arguing the term refers not to all pollutants regulated under the Clean Air Act, but only to the six national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) pollutants: carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, particle pollution, and sulfur dioxide. Kavanaugh insisted that taking the statute at its word and interpreting "any air pollutant" to include greenhouse gases would lead to “absurd results.” Kavanaugh also expressed concern that a broader interpretation encompassing greenhouse gases “would impose significantly higher costs on businesses[.]”

• Tried to overturn emissions standards for hazardous pollutants emitted by coal- and oil-fired plants. In White Stallion Energy Center v. EPA (2014), Kavanaugh dissented from a ruling that upheld the EPA’s decision not to consider cost when determining whether it is “appropriate and necessary” to regulate power plants under the air toxics section of the Clean Air Act. Kavanaugh sought to turn the Clean Air Act on its head by no longer setting pollution standards based upon what is most protective to the public health and the environment, but instead also based upon what is least costly to industry. Justice Scalia, in a 5-4 opinion quoting directly from Kavanaugh’s dissent, reversed the D.C. Circuit Court and remanded the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards back to EPA to assess costs in determining if it is “appropriate and necessary” to regulate air toxic emissions from power plants. This issue remains ongoing and could reach the Supreme Court again.

• Supported fossil fuel interests seeking to delay rules limiting methane emissions from oil and gas drilling. In Clean Air Council v. Pruitt (2017), Kavanaugh supported a delay by the Trump Administration’s EPA in its implementation of a 2016 rule curbing emissions of methane, smog-forming volatile organic compounds, and toxic air pollutants such as benzene from new, reconstructed, and modified oil and gas sources.

• Sided with industry over rules curbing greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change. In 2015, EPA issued a rule that restricted manufacturers from making certain products that contain hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs, which are greenhouse gases). In Mexichem Fluor, Inc. v. EPA (2017), HFC manufacturers filed suit to challenge the EPA’s final action. During oral argument, and despite the existence of safer alternatives that have a very low potential to contribute to global warming, Kavanaugh sided with the HFC-manufacturing industry, commenting that “EPA’s rule seemed to ‘pull the rug out’ from under companies that invested in HFCs,” and argued EPA lacked the statutory authority to regulate HFCs at all.

• Ruled against Nevadans fighting to prevent nuclear waste from being stored at Yucca Mountain. In In Re: Aiken County (2013), In a 2-1 decision Kavanaugh wrote the majority opinion granting a petition for writ of mandamus against the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, compelling it to continue with the licensing process for the storage of nuclear waste in Yucca Mountain.

• Sided with corporation improperly disposing of hazardous waste. EPA governs the management and disposal of hazardous wastes through the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Howmet, a Michigan corporation, used an aqueous potassium hydroxide (KOH) solution as a cleaning agent, which after repeated use, would become too contaminated for continued use. Instead of disposing the hazardous waste, Howmet shipped it to a fertilizer manufacturer that simply re-used it. Howmet was fined $310,000 by EPA for improperly disposing the KOH under RCRA. In Howmet Corp. v. EPA, the D.C. Circuit upheld EPA’s fine in a 2-1 decision. Kavanaugh rejected the reasoning of two of the DC Circuit Court’s most conservative judges in his strongly-worded dissent which calls into question EPA’s authority under RCRA: “in light of today’s decision, [the court] may have to consider in a future case whether EPA’s expansion of its regulatory authority transgresses RCRA’s limits.”