WASHINGTON (CN) - A federal judge rejected a challenge Monday to President Trump's 2-for-1 deregulation order that requires agencies to repeal two regulations for every new one implemented, and to cap the cost of new regulations at zero.
Rather than ruling on the merits of the case, U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss nixed the case in Washington for lack of standing. He said the consumer-advocacy groups that brought the lawsuit last year failed to tie the executive order to an imminent injury.
In addition to having failed to identify specific members that the order would harm, Moss said the groups offered no evidence that Trump’s executive order actually interfered in agencies taking regulatory action.
Moss noted that the D.C. Circuit regularly rejects standing claims based on such equivocal predictions.
He also rejected their argument that the executive order would chill the missions of the organizations to protect public health and safety and the environment by forcing them to weigh the benefit of proposing a new rule against the harms that could result from the loss of two regulations in its place.
"The burden of merely considering the issue, however, is insufficient to establish organizational standing," the 52-page opinion says.
Filed by Public Citizen Inc., the Natural Resources Defense Council and the labor union Communications Workers of America, the lawsuit claimed the executive order is unconstitutional because it requires federal agencies to exceed the authority given to them by Congress.
Seattle-based Earthjustice brought the lawsuit in Washington, D.C., along with in-house attorneys for Public Citizen Inc., The Natural Resources Defense Council and the Communications Workers of America.
The groups expressed concern in the lawsuit that the executive order would lead to the repeal of regulations that deal with things like automobile safety, occupational health, air pollution, and endangered species.
In a statement on Monday’s ruling, Earthjustice president Trip Van Noppen said the challengers stand by their claims.
“Today’s ruling does nothing to change the fact that this executive order is blatantly unconstitutional and a textbook case of presidential overreach,” Van Noppen said. “The president cannot unilaterally prevent agencies from putting protections in place to ensure the safety of the water we drink, the food, we eat, the air we breathe and the places we work.”
Moss still wants to hear from the parties on March 1 before entering a final judgment, leaving the door open for the consumer watchdogs to shore up their arguments for standing in an amended complaint.
Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec applauded the ruling. “We are pleased the court dismissed this challenge to the president’s lawful effort to reduce unnecessary regulations,” Kupec said in an email.