Description: Challenge to President Trump's executive order on “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs” as well as interim guidance for the order’s implementation.
Public Citizen, Inc. v. Trump
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 12/20/2019 Memorandum Opinion Download Defendants' cross-motion for summary judgment granted and case dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Federal Court Dismissed Challenge to “Two for One” Executive Order. The federal district court for the District of Columbia ruled that the plaintiffs challenging President Trump’s “two for one” executive order had not established standing. The executive order was issued in January 2017 and directed, among other things, that federal agencies identify at least two existing regulations to be repealed for every new regulation promulgated and offset any new incremental cost of a new regulation by eliminating costs associated with at least two prior regulations. The district court—which previously allowed limited discovery to address deficiencies in the plaintiffs’ standing allegations—found that the plaintiffs had not demonstrated that either the executive order itself or related guidance issued by the Office of Management and Budget caused the delay in the finalizing of two regulations identified by the plaintiffs: a federal motor vehicle safety standard for vehicle-to-vehicle accident avoidance communications and an energy efficiency standard for commercial water heating equipment. The court cited interrogatory responses of federal officials that supplied reasons for the delays and said the plaintiffs failed to point to evidence to contradict these responses. The court also rejected the plaintiffs’ contention that they should be found to have standing because the executive order was certain to increase delay in the future. 02/08/2019 Memorandum Opinion and Order Download Motion to dismiss denied and plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment denied. Federal Court Declined to Dismiss Challenge to “Two-for-One” Order but Found That Plaintiffs Had Not Yet Established Standing. The federal district court for the District of Columbia denied the federal government’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit challenging President Trump’s “Two-for-One” executive order, but also denied the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment on the issue of standing. In denying the motion to dismiss for lack of standing, the court found that the plaintiffs had plausibly alleged that the order—which requires agencies to identify two regulations for potential repeal for every new proposed regulation—had delayed issuance of a regulation and that the delay would likely cause harm to at least one of the plaintiff organizations’ members that could be redressed by invalidation of the order. In denying the motion for partial summary judgment, the court found that the plaintiffs had failed to demonstrate associational standing as a matter of undisputed material fact with respect to any of the five regulatory measures that the plaintiffs contended had been delayed due to the order, including efficiency standards for cooking products and water heaters. The court also found that the plaintiffs failed to establish organizational standing based on the executive order’s undermining of their ability to advocate for health and safety, consumer protection, the environment, and improved working conditions. The court said the case “currently sits in a liminal state” since it cannot not consider the merits without determining that it had jurisdiction. The court planned to hold a status conference to discuss next steps. 06/04/2018 Motion for Summary Judgment Download Motion for partial summary judgment filed by plaintiffs. 06/04/2018 Motion to Intervene Download Motion to intervene as plaintiffs filed by California and Oregon. 05/14/2018 Motion to Dismiss Download Motion to dismiss filed by defendants. 04/20/2018 Complaint Download Second amended complaint deemed filed. The court granted the plaintiffs' motion for leave to amend their complaint on April 20. The defendants must file their motion to dismiss by May 14. 04/20/2018 Not Available Download Defendants filed non-opposition to plaintiffs' motion to file a second amended complaint. The defendants did not oppose the plaintiffs' motion for leave to amend, stating that while they believed the motion could be denied as futile under Rule 15, “given the important issues presented in this litigation, and in the interests of efficiency,” the issue of standing should be resolved through a Rule 12 motion to dismiss. 04/02/2018 Motion Download Motion for leave to amend filed by plaintiffs. Amended Complaint with New Standing Allegations Filed to Challenge Trump “Two-for-One” Order. After the federal district court for the District of Columbia ruled that it lacked jurisdiction to hear a challenge to President Trump’s Executive Order on “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs” because the plaintiffs did not have standing, the plaintiffs sought leave to file an amended complaint. The plaintiffs asserted, among other things, that the new complaint’s allegations and supporting declarations regarding the Department of Energy’s failure to establish new energy-efficiency standards demonstrated the standing of two of the plaintiffs. 02/26/2018 Memorandum Opinion and Order Download Action dismissed for lack of standing to sue. D.C. Federal Court Dismissed Challenge to Executive Order on Reducing Regulation. The federal district court for the District of Columbia concluded that it lacked jurisdiction to consider an action challenging President Trump’s Executive Order on “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs” because the plaintiffs had failed to establish that they had standing to sue. First, the court said the non-profit groups that were the plaintiffs in the action failed to establish “associational” standing based on harm to their members from the delay or preclusion of regulatory actions by the executive order. For instance, the court found that the Natural Resources Defense Council—which contended that one of its members suffered harm due to delay of “rules to curb climate change”—had not identified a particular rule or regulatory action that would address the member’s concerns. The court stated: “Any injury allegedly stemming from the prospect that the Executive Order has delayed the issuance of unspecified regulations relating to a broadly defined area of concern is too abstract and speculative to support standing.” Second, the court found that the plaintiffs had failed to establish “organizational” standing. The court said the plaintiffs had failed to show they suffered an injury in fact based on the executive order’s alleged “chilling effect” on their mission to encourage agencies to adopt regulations or that such an injury was fairly traceable to the executive order. 02/08/2017 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Consumer, Environmental, and Labor Groups Challenged Executive Order on Reducing Regulation. Public Citizen, Natural Resources Defense Council, and an international labor union filed a complaint in the federal district court for the District of Columbia challenging President Trump’s Executive Order on “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs” as well as interim guidance for the order’s implementation. The order directed federal agencies to (1) ensure that “incremental costs” of all new regulations finalized in fiscal year 2017, including repealed regulations, are no greater than zero, and (2) identify two regulations for potential repeal for every new regulation that is proposed. The complaint alleged that the order was unconstitutional in two ways. First, the plaintiffs alleged that the order violated separation of powers by asking agencies to consider factors not specified in or inconsistent with their governing statutes when making decisions about the promulgation or repeal of regulations. Second, the complaint alleged that the order violated the Constitution’s Take Care Clause, which establishes the President’s core executive duty to “take care that the law shall be faithfully executed.” The complaint also alleged that the order required agencies to act beyond their legal power (or ultra vires) and violated the Administrative Procedure Act. The plaintiffs enumerated examples of pending regulations that the order would affect, including vehicle safety standards and standards to protect the health and safety of miners. On climate change, the complaint noted that the Executive Order would run afoul of specific statutory requirements in the Clean Air Act, such as the definition of the “best system of emission reduction” in Section 111, the provision used in the Clean Power Plan, which requires that EPA consider not only cost but also environmental impacts and energy requirements.