President Donald Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, is a familiar face to agriculture who has a record of challenging federal regulators when he believes they’ve gone farther than the law allows.
If confirmed to replace the moderate Anthony Kennedy, Kavanaugh is expected to take the high court in a more conservative direction on a range of issues, including the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act.
Kavanaugh, 53, has served the past 12 years as a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is responsible for handling cases involving the EPA and many other federal agencies.
The top environmental lawyer for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Scott Yager, says Kavanaugh’s nomination should clear the way for implementing a new definition of the “waters of the United States” that are regulated by the Clean Water Act.
Replacing Kennedy “with a solidly conservative fifth vote will change the highest court in the land for many years to come and clears the path for a narrower WOTUS definition,” Yager said.
Mixed record on RFS
According to an analysis by Scotusblog, Kavanaugh “is clearly inclined to resist the expansion of administrative-agency authority,” but he also tends to assess legal questions on a case-by-case basis.
Kavanaugh has come down on different sides on cases involving the Renewable Fuel Standard.
He wrote an opinion last year favorable to the ethanol industry on the restrictive approach EPA was taking to setting annual usage mandates. But in an earlier case, he argued that EPA had wrongly approved the sale of E15.
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