The Trump administration is facing its first legal challenge against their moves to deregulate federal departments, and it might not be from where you'd expect. In reaction to him signing a measure rescinding protection for bears and wolves, the Center for Biological Diversity is suing President Trump in an effort to protect precious Alaskan wildlife.
Earlier this month, Trump signed a bill nullifying an Obama-era regulation that made it illegal for hunters to use aggressive hunting tactics against bears and wolves on federal refuges. While the Alaska Republican congressman introducing the bill, Rep. Don Young, claimed it was about returning power to the state to manage its own fish and game, environmental groups have blasted it as scientifically unsound and needlessly cruel. The Center for Biological Diversity vowed to fight the legislation, and this lawsuit appears to be their attempt to do exactly that.
The reasoning behind the lawsuit is that the Congressional Review Act that overturned the regulation was unconstitutional because it would prevent regulators from putting similar measures in place in the future.
“The Congressional Review Act throws the balance of power out of whack and opens the door for politicians in Congress to meddle in decisions that ought to be made by experts at federal agencies,” said Collette Adkins, one of the attorneys behind the case, told Reuters. “By law the Fish and Wildlife Service must protect biological diversity on Alaskan wildlife refuges. But the act makes it more difficult for agency officials to carry out their legal duty.”
The lawsuit likely won't succeed, but it's notable as the first attempt that an advocacy group has made against Trump's promise to deregulate, deregulate, deregulate. Unfortunately for the wolves and bears who can now be shot while hibernating, it's very unlikely that the court will find the Congressional Review Act unconstitutional. At the very least, it's a creative effort, and one that no one has yet attempted against all of Trump's other efforts at deregulation. Perhaps at the very least, other groups will be able to learn from it and sharpen their edges for future legal challenges.
The Alaska National Wildlife Refuges Rule, which Trump got rid of, is a typical case of the deregulation that his administration has targeted so far. Now, hunters can shoot bears by airplane, people with serious mental illnesses can buy handguns, and a pesticide known to harm children was not banned.
Steve Bannon said he wanted to deconstruct the administrative state, and although his position now isn't as secure as it was, the country certainly seems to be heading in that direction. Even if this lawsuit doesn't succeed, perhaps those in favor of having a clean, safe, and environmentally friendly country can hope that it will only be the first of many.