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Looking back on Holder's approach to environmental litigation

After five years of dedicated service, Attorney General Eric Holder is currently undergoing preparations to exit his post within the Obama administration. Unlike many of his predecessors, Holder has generally received favorable feedback from the environmental legal community in regards to his environmental litigation approach. The primary criticism that many have voiced is that Holder has failed to effectively prosecute matters involving criminal environmental enforcement.

However, on other environmental matters, Holder’s career as Attorney General is being applauded. His efforts to ensure that various natural resources remain protected and that environmental matters affecting public health are addressed will almost certainly affect American environmental law for years to come.

Not only have the majority of the Environmental Protection Agency’s rulemakings been upheld within the federal court system during Holder’s tenure, his department secured record settlements related to the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Although other areas of Holder’s record may remain suspect, his environmental record seems particularly strong in hindsight.

It is unclear how the next Attorney General will approach environmental litigation. Each individual who has assumed this post has pursued different priorities. However, each Attorney General functions as a part of the larger administration that he or she serves. As a result, there are strong reasons to suspect that the next Attorney General will continue to prioritize certain environmental policies in conjunction with the Obama administration’s goals. No matter what is to come, the reality that remains steadfast is that the Attorney General’s approach to environmental policy will affect American businesses and the American public either for better or for worse as a result of either attention or negligence in regards to the most pressing issues of the day.

Source: E & E, “High marks -- mostly -- for Holder on environmental cases,” Jeremy P. Jacobs, Feb. 9, 2015

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