Standing our Ground

SELC Responds to the Trump Administration

Facing aggressive actions in Washington, D.C., aimed at gutting environmental protections, the Southern Environmental Law Center is determined to defend the fundamental laws and policies that have been put in place to safeguard the quality of our air, water, and natural treasures.

SELC has deep expertise in law and policy, local presence throughout our six states, and a 30-year track record of working successfully in both friendly and hostile times. This organization is uniquely positioned to be the vigilant, strong, and effective champion of the South's environment—and all the people and communities who depend on it for their health and wellbeing.

“What SELC stands for, and what we do on behalf of the people and places we protect, are needed now more than ever.”

Rick Middleton, Founder and Executive Director

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The Latest Updates

Still not worth the risk

As the Trump administration reportedly prepares to restart consideration of offshore drilling in the Atlantic, coastal residents up and down the Eastern seaboard are reminding this president what they told the last: No drilling of... Read More »

Filed Under: Federal policy, Offshore drilling

Proposed NOAA budget cuts could be tough for Southerners to weather

Budget cuts that might strip hundreds of millions of dollars from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration could make it harder for the agency to track changes in the Earth’s climate and to help coastal communities brac... Read More »

State: South Carolina   Filed Under: Federal policy, Water planning

Trump agency attorneys signal attack on mercury rule

The Trump administration on Tuesday asked to delay a court hearing on the already-implemented federal Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, a signal that the administration's Environmental Protection Agency will soon have marching ord... Read More »

Filed Under: Air quality, Federal policy, Healthy environment

Administration tells power plants they can keep polluting water

Along Tennessee’s scenic Cumberland River, the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Cumberland Fossil Plant dumps more mercury pollution into our waters than any other coal-fired power plant in the country. While Cumberland is one of the... Read More »

State: Tennessee   Filed Under: Federal policy, Water planning, Water quality

“Sacrificing our environment at the request of well-connected polluting industries risks irreparable harm to our abundance of environmental wealth, world-famous biodiversity, and the natural resources that make Alabama a special place to live, work, and protect. ”

Keith Johnston, Managing Attorney, SELC's Birmingham office

Read More »

Cuts to federal workforce open door for pollution

Politico is reporting President Donald Trump's administration will send a 14-page memorandum to federal agency leaders today ordering them to begin the process of making deep personnel cuts over the next year. The Environmental P... Read More »

Filed Under: Federal policy

Trump budget threatens key transportation investments

Recent White House budget proposals include major cuts to vital transportation programs that affect communities across the South. These cuts put key economy-boosting, clean transportation projects at risk, directly contrary to Pre... Read More »

Filed Under: Federal policy, Transit and rail, Transportation

Supreme Court decides to move forward with SELC Clean Water Rule case

Today the Supreme Court decided not to grant the Trump administration’s request for a delay in a crucial case that could eventually decide which of the nation’s streams and wetlands are protected from polluters. “We look forward... Read More »

Filed Under: Federal policy, Water quality

Trump Administration’s rash action guts climate protections

With a sweeping executive order aimed at dismantling climate protections, the Trump administration today directed the reversal of the Clean Power Plan and revoked a series of previous actions aimed at combating climate change, fro... Read More »

Filed Under: Federal policy

Federal support essential to regional Chesapeake Bay restoration

Up until now, the Environmental Protection Agency has played a critical role in restoring water quality in the Chesapeake Bay. Working with the six states in the bay watershed, the agency is a key player in the joint commitment to... Read More »

State: Virginia   Filed Under: Federal policy, Water quality

White House budget hurts economy and strips health, safety protections for Southeasterners

The White House released its budget outline last night, calling for deep cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of the Interior (DOI), and critical infrastructure investments, threatening thousands of jobs a... Read More »

Filed Under: Federal policy

SELC, partners file U.S. Supreme Court brief to defend Clean Water Rule

Today SELC filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court urging the nation’s highest court to follow through on its plans to hear the upcoming case on the Clean Water Rule, a landmark rule safeguarding streams, wetlands, and other water... Read More »

Filed Under: Federal policy

White House cuts to EPA budget strip health and safety protections for Southeasterners

Reports show that the White House budget calls for cutting the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) overall budget by 25 percent, threatening thousands of jobs and health and safety protections for millions of Southeastern fami... Read More »

Filed Under: Federal policy

SELC, partners join legal battle over protections for endangered wildlife

Several southern conservation groups moved to defend important federal protections for endangered species that were recently challenged by 18 states, including South Carolina and Alabama.  Representing Black Warrior Riverkeeper,... Read More »

Filed Under: Federal policy

President’s Executive Order, EPA cuts threaten communities’ clean drinking water, health, and safety

President Donald Trump signed an executive order attacking the Clean Water Rule today, and is expected to call for major budget cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency this evening, threatening thousands of jobs in the Southea... Read More »

Filed Under: Federal policy

President takes aim at federal protections

Surrounded by CEOs, President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Friday aimed at rolling back federal protections. The order, signed by Trump in the Oval Office with chief executives of major U.S. corporations standing beh... Read More »

Filed Under: Federal policy

President dismantles stream protections, threatening drinking water for Southeasterners, nation

Today President Donald Trump signed into law a repeal of the Stream Protection Rule, dismantling key protections that help keep our drinking water safe from coal pollution. The President’s signature on this bill marks the first an... Read More »

Filed Under: Federal policy, Healthy environment, Water quality

Congressman’s bill: “Terminate” the EPA

In April, 2014, a broken rail sent a CSX train carrying crude oil tumbling off the tracks in Lynchburg, Va. Several cars plunged into the James River as a ruptured tanker gushed 30,000 gallons of the crude into the water, erupting... Read More »

Filed Under: Federal policy

Congressional vote pits coal company profits against clean water

UPDATE (2/2/17): Today Congress voted to throw out protections for our nation's waterways, opening the door for coal mining pollution in drinking water sources and other waters. Read more in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, where SEL... Read More »

Filed Under: Coal mining, Federal policy, Water quality

“ This executive order requiring repeal of two regulations for every new regulation adopted is governing by gimmick. An executive order that strips away environmental safeguards by counting regulations instead of considering substance shows a general disregard for health of citizens and the environment.”

—Nat Mund, SELC Legislative Director

Read More »

Freeze on EPA grants puts clean water, clean air at risk as agency goes silent

Memos circulated at the Environmental Protection Agency in the first days of the Trump administration put a freeze on the agency’s grants, as well as a gag order on EPA officials discussing the grant freeze. The length and depth... Read More »

Filed Under: Air quality, Federal policy, Water quality

New rule protecting streams targeted by a Congress seeking environmental rollbacks

It took more than 30 years to update a federal rule meant to protect streams from coal-mining waste, but Congress in just days is attempting to kill the rule as a part of rollback of environmental regulations under the incoming Tr... Read More »

Filed Under: Federal policy, Water quality

What does the incoming administration and new Congress mean for clean water in the South?

The South is lucky to have more miles of rivers-and more types of rivers-than any other region in the country. Unfortunately, under the new federal administration and a new Congress, these precious resources may be at risk for pol... Read More »

Filed Under: Federal policy, Water quality

TVA refuses to disclose water quality data from leaking Gallatin coal ash site

The Tennessee Valley Authority is refusing to turn over data showing that groundwater wells at the Gallatin Coal Ash plant on the banks of the Cumberland River—Nashville's drinking water supply—exceed maximum contamination levels... Read More »

State: Tennessee   Filed Under: Coal ash, Federal policy, Healthy environment

New protections announced for coal country streams

Today, the federal government authorized new rules holding polluters accountable for mining pollution in the nation’s waterways. In releasing the final Stream Protection Rule, the Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcem... Read More »

Filed Under: Coal mining, Federal policy, Water quality

Judge urges Georgia, Florida to work out water dispute ahead of ruling

Closing out a month-long trial in the latest chapter of the water dispute between Georgia and Florida, special master Ralph Lancaster imparted some words of advice to both states: work it out.   Appointed by the U.S. Supreme Cour... Read More »

State: Georgia   Filed Under: Federal policy, Water planning

“Four years ago, DEQ changed its mission to 'customer service.' It quickly became apparent the customers it cares about are the polluters and not the people of North Carolina.”

Derb Carter, Director of North Carolina offices, in a Fayetteville Observer op-ed

Read More »

SELC challenges Atlantic Coast Pipeline route

Robbie Koontz pulls on a ballcap as she sits to talk. Her hair is falling out and she’s a little embarrassed. “My doctor says it is due to stress,” she said. “It is just constant. We can’t get away from it.” The stress is over D... Read More »

State: Virginia   Filed Under: Federal policy, Natural gas

Federal commission blasts EPA for adding to burdens of disadvantaged citizens

In a recent report, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights found that the Environmental Protection Agency repeatedly overlooks the undue burden coal ash storage and fracking places on minority and low-income neighborhoods. In analys... Read More »

State: North Carolina   Filed Under: Coal ash, Federal policy, Healthy environment

Clean Power Plan has its day in court

Tomorrow the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals hears oral argument on the Clean Power Plan, a landmark action to reduce harmful carbon pollution and speed the country’s transition to cleaner, more affordable energy choices. Despite s... Read More »

Filed Under: Air quality, Federal policy

Settlement to offset harm from Monroe Bypass through land conservation, water quality protections

Today SELC and the Yadkin Riverkeeper announced a million-dollar settlement with the North Carolina Departments of Transportation and Environmental Quality to conserve land and protect water quality in areas harmed by the Monroe B... Read More »

State: North Carolina   Filed Under: Federal policy, Transportation

Dismantled: New report details years of cuts to North Carolina’s environmental protections

Released today, the SELC report Dismantled chronicles the trend of state officials undermining the sensible environmental policies that make North Carolina a great place to visit, live, and do business. For six years, policies en... Read More »

State: North Carolina   Filed Under: Air quality, Coastal protection, Federal policy, Land use, Water quality

Transportation now the top source of U.S. global warming pollution

For the first time since the 1970s, transportation has surpassed electric power generation as the leading source of heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions nationwide, according to an analysis of the latest federal energy data. In... Read More »

Filed Under: Air quality, Federal policy, Transportation

National assessment of streams and rivers highlights need for protections in the South

The Environmental Protection Agency released its latest study on the state of rivers and streams in the U.S., showing that 46% of stream miles nationwide are in poor biological condition. The National Rivers and Streams Assessmen... Read More »

Filed Under: Federal policy, Water quality

U.S. Supreme Court upholds pollution limits for Chesapeake Bay

The U.S. Supreme Court today denied the request of the American Farm Bureau Federation and its allies to take up their case challenging the legality of pollution limits that EPA set for the Chesapeake Bay. This means that the Thir... Read More »

State: Virginia   Filed Under: Chesapeake Bay, Federal policy, Water quality

Clean energy transition should continue, despite Supreme Court stay of federal rule

The Supreme Court announced yesterday a temporary stay on the Clean Power Plan, the country's strongest action ever to reduce carbon pollution from power plants and pave the way for cleaner and more affordable energy choices. In... Read More »

Filed Under: Air quality, Clean Power Plan, Federal policy, Healthy environment

EPA urged to adopt stronger incentives for clean energy, energy efficiency in Clean Power Plan

As model carbon trading rules are finalized for the Clean Power Plan, SELC is urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to let energy efficiency and renewable energy compete on a level playing field with traditional monopoly... Read More »

Filed Under: Air quality, Federal policy, Healthy environment, SELC news

President vetoes Congress’ attack on clean water

SELC applauds President Obama's veto yesterday of Congressional attempts to block the Clean Water Rule. Earlier this year, Congress pushed through a Congressional Review Act "Resolution of Disapproval" of the rule, despite the gu... Read More »

Filed Under: Federal policy, Healthy environment, Water quality

House looks to roll back clean water protections

This week, the U.S. House of Representatives is kicking off the New Year by voting on two bills attacking Clean Water Act protections for our nation’s waters. Both bills House leadership is bringing to the floor would stop agency... Read More »

Filed Under: Federal policy, Water quality

Southeast poised to gain from Paris talks on climate change

As world leaders meet in Paris to reach far-reaching agreements on how to halt greenhouse gas emissions and the resulting climate change, the impact of the global negotiations here in the Southeast is hard to ignore. Consider tha... Read More »

Filed Under: Air quality, Climate change, Federal policy

EPA sends warning to state enviro agency in N.C.

The efforts of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality to block citizen review of environmental permits have drawn the attention of the Environmental Protection Agency. In a recent letter to the DEQ, EPA noted that,... Read More »

State: North Carolina   Filed Under: Air quality, Federal policy, River and stream protection

Virginia joining states defending the Clean Power Plan

Today, Attorney General Mark Herring announced Virginia will be joining a coalition of 18 states supporting the new federal Clean Power Plan as it faces legal attacks. Released this summer, the Environmental Protection Agency’s C... Read More »

State: Virginia   Filed Under: Air quality, Federal policy, Healthy environment

Court’s decision hits pause on the Clean Water Rule nationwide

As litigation concerning the federal Clean Water Rule continues in multiple courts all over the country, one court’s decision to hit pause on the new rule earlier this month has created confusion about the current protections for... Read More »

Filed Under: Federal policy, Water quality

Though delayed, new ozone standard is a step forward in improving public health

The Environmental Protection Agency announced today it has tightened the new ozone pollution standard to 70 parts per billion (ppb), marking belated, incremental progress in the ongoing efforts to reduce air pollution and improve... Read More »

Filed Under: Air quality, Energy, Federal policy, Healthy environment, Power plants, Transportation

Agreement ends landmark lawsuit for clean air

SELC and our partners have reached the final milestone in a 15-year legal journey that, along the way, has led to a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision and agreements to keep millions of tons of pollution out of the nation’s air... Read More »

State: North Carolina   Filed Under: Air quality, Federal policy

Clean Water Rule goes into effect in the Southeast

EPA officials are pressing ahead with plans for the Clean Water Rule, the most significant piece of federal action on water protection in decades, which goes into effect today. While legal challenges angle to derail its implementa... Read More »

Filed Under: Clean Water Rule, Federal policy, Healthy environment, Water quality

Clean Power Plan provides path for safer climate, catalyst for clean energy jobs in the Southeast

This afternoon the Obama Administration will release the final version of the Clean Power Plan, the country’s strongest action ever to reduce carbon pollution and pave the way for cleaner and more affordable energy choices. Over... Read More »

Filed Under: Air quality, Federal policy, Healthy environment

Supreme Court returns EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards to lower court

In a narrow 5-4 decision—and on narrow legal grounds—the Supreme Court sent the Environmental Protection Agency’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards rules back to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals for reconsideration. The so-called... Read More »

Filed Under: Air quality, Federal policy, Power plants

Recap of the final Clean Water Rule and what’s included

The release of EPA’s final Clean Water Rule last week marks an important milestone after years of confusion left 60 percent of the nation’s stream miles and 20 million acres of wetlands at risk for pollution. SELC submitted comme... Read More »

Filed Under: Federal policy, Water quality

“This is not my state.”

Derb Carter, senior attorney and director, SELC North Carolina office

Read More »

Confusion in Congress underscores need for clarified Clean Water Act protections

A joint Congressional hearing earlier today on the Environmental Protection Agency’s and the Army Corps of Engineers’ proposed rule further highlights the need for clarification on what streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands are prot... Read More »

Filed Under: Federal policy, Water quality