Covington, Hogan Lovells Sue Trump Over Monument-Slashing Plan
Two lawsuits this week in Washington federal district court challenge the Trump administration’s moves to dramatically slash the size of two national monuments in Utah.
Hogan Lovells on Wednesday night, representing the California-based outdoor apparel company Patagonia Works and Conservation Lands Foundation, among other clients, filed a lawsuit against various Trump administration agencies. A day earlier, Covington & Burling, advocating for three groups, filed suit against the U.S. Interior Department.
Ryan Zinke, secretary of the Interior Department, had planned to shrink the size of four national monuments, The New York Times reported in August. The Washington Post called the Trump administration’s moves this week “the largest reduction of public-lands protection in U.S. history.”
Following the move, Patagonia updated the homepage of its website to state in large text, “The President Stole Your Land.” In the lawsuit, the company said the Trump administration lacks authority to remove the monuments’ public-lands protection.
“In the 111-year history of the Antiquities Act, no president has ever reversed a prior president’s monument by wholesale removal of protections for landmarks, structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest,” Hogan Lovells attorneys wrote in the complaint.
The lawyers added: “For as much authority as it gave to the president to create these monuments Congress gave the president no authority to revoke or modify those monuments or to vacate the protections created for those monuments. Congress is the sole authority that can undertake such changes.”
Patagonia said it would “suffer direct and immediate injury from the revocation of the designation of the landmarks, structures and objects of the Bears Ears National Monument.”
“As a result of President Trump’s actions, Patagonia will be forced to divert more resources away from other organizational activities in support of conservation and social equity and towards protection and restoration of the objects comprising the Bears Ears National Monument.”
Covington’s Gary Guzy, senior of counsel, is on the suit for Grand Staircase Escalante Partners, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology and Conservation Lands Foundation. Guzy focuses on environmental law and regulation at the firm.
At Hogan Lovells, partner Douglas Wheeler, formerly California’s secretary for resources in the 1990s, is on the suit for Patagonia and the other plaintiffs. Hogan Lovells partners Jim Banks and Adam Kushner, the principal litigators in the firm’s environmental practice group, are also on the suit.
Wheeler, speaking with The National Law Journal on Thursday, said Hogan Lovells took on the case pro bono after conducting a conflicts check and finding that the Bears Ears matter would not directly affect any of the firm’s energy clients.
Wheeler serves on the board of the Conservation Lands Foundation, which asked the firm about the possibility of litigating a case over public land protections after the Trump administration announced a review of the 27 national monuments created since 1996 that are at least 100,000 acres. As a longtime supporter of the foundation, Patagonia chose to join the litigation, Wheeler said.
“We had heard from [the Conservation Law Foundation] that they were particularly concerned about Bears Ears and Grand Staircase, because those were in Utah and there had been very strong statements of public opposition dating back to the Clinton designation of Grand Staircase from Utah’s political establishment,” Wheeler said. “It was pretty clear from the beginning that they were targets of the administration’s attempts to diminish the size of national monuments generally.”
Source: Law Journal