Kevin Dietsch / Bloomberg

US - Biden Environment Agenda Spurs Early Pivots, Attacks in Court

The Biden administration has begun recasting environmental litigation as it reviews the government’s position in existing cases and adopts new policies already under attack by Republicans.

Lawyers in the Justice Department and other agencies have assessed hundreds of pending cases and pressed pause on as many as possible—focusing on strategic delays rather than dramatic changes in position.

“So, what we’re seeing is the government come in saying, ‘We want to take back this rule’ or ‘We need more time because we’re going to rethink it,’” University of Denver law professor Wyatt Sassman said. “And all they’re doing is moving back to the center line.”

The legal maneuvering as President Joe Biden approaches his first 100 days in office allows his appointees to implement their own policies for pollution reduction, climate change, environmental justice, public lands management, and other priorities. Advocates hoping for a total repudiation of Trump-era positions have already faced disappointment in some cases.

More sweeping legal and policy changes are expected as agencies implement the Biden agenda, and early lawsuits preview the broad conflict to come.

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