A Legal Perspective on the USA’s Energy Export Program Denial
The Millennium lawsuit is a class action lawsuit filed in the United States by residents of Illinois who believe that they have been injured as a result of mercury and coal terminal emissions. The United States Environmental Protection Agency or EPA has been sued by these residents due to the large amount of mercury and coal released into the atmosphere which can be found throughout the state of Illinois. The plaintiffs, who filed the original lawsuit are seeking monetary damages as well as an increase in the amount of monitoring and protection that is done by the federal government to prevent the damages from occurring again. There have been other incidences of mercury spills within the area of the spill and as well as coal train explosions.
Mercury is usually released from the tail pipe of a coal train. The lining of the coal trains are made of this very heavy metal and will often times leaks out onto the ground or other surfaces which may then contain levels of mercury such as roads. The adverse effects from the mercury and coal can lead to many different health conditions as well as deformities among individuals. The Millennium lawsuit was brought forth to seek out those responsible for such irresponsible behavior and to force them into enforcing the Safe Drinking Water Act.
When you take a look at the amounts of mercury released into the atmosphere during the years between 2021, you would find that it was a horrific year both in terms of quantity and quality of the pollutants being released into the atmosphere. The amount of mercury released during that period was the highest in over twenty years. A significant increase of asthma cases were also recorded during that same time frame; something that must surely affect everyone’s daily lives.
Now the question becomes, how did the United States suffer such severe damages as a result of the coal export industry?
As mentioned above, there were a number of incidences that took place but the main perpetrators were the manufacturers of the coal terminals themselves. A significant amount of blame can also be placed on the daily news stations because of their reporting on these events.
The Millennium lawsuit is primarily a case against the largest coal export terminal in the United States, the Energy Security Council (ESTC).
The reason why the company was not granted the necessary permits to conduct business is because they did not abide by the proper environmental standards and regulations. It is important to remember that the US Environmental Protection Agency was not just sitting back and allow this to happen. The ETS was actually one of the main drivers of this entire situation.
The reason why the Millennium lawsuit was brought up is because of the numerous adverse impacts that occurred due to the ETS failure.
In addition to being in violation of the law, the lack of permits for the export terminal resulted in increased fuel prices, unemployment, decreased tourism, and the worst part, the loss of income to the residents of the surrounding areas. These adverse impacts had a significantly negative economic impact on the residents of the counties surrounding the Millennium port.
One of the most detrimental adverse impacts of the Millennium port was the lack of permitting.
The Millennium coal export terminal was built in direct violation of the law. Despite the fact that there were numerous environmental concerns about the construction, county officials never conducted any kind of environmental review prior to the Millennium port project. Despite the fact that the United States Environmental Protection Agency required ETS applicants to submit additional permits for the facility, county officials waited until the last minute to submit the needed permits for the facility. According to the county officials, they did not believe that it was necessary to submit the additional permit applications in time or that the permits would have been approved anyway.
From the above example, it becomes clear that environmental justice demands a coordinated federal response.
The Trump administration has promised an executive order that will implement pro-business regulatory reform and protection for American workers. It is unfortunate that Congress passed a bill in January that contained very little meaningful environmental protection. As reported by the Associated Press,” Congressional leaders want to make good on their promise to overhaul the government’s regulatory agencies, but few new laws have been signed thus far.” Hopefully, the focus of regulatory reform will not be diverted from harmful legislation that will kill jobs and damage the environment.