August 12, 2020

Van Hollen Hails Legal Decision Upending Trump Administration’s Rollback of Migratory Bird Protections

Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) released the following statement in response to the ruling from the Southern District of New York that the Department of Interior’s (DOI) Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) M-Opinion is unlawful. The ruling vacates a Trump Administration legal interpretation of the MBTA that freed companies of any liability for oil spills that kill migratory birds. Senator Van Hollen has repeatedly fought DOI on this issue, including in a letter to then-Acting Secretary David Bernhardt and in questioning in an Environment and Public Works Committee hearing 

“This decision rightfully invalidates the Trump Administration’s bad faith legal maneuver to take the teeth out of the historic and effective Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which has likely saved millions of migratory birds from harm and prevented further disruption to our ecosystems. The Trump Administration’s unilateral revisions to the law would have prevented us from obtaining damages under the MBTA for BP’s massive killing of migratory birds in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. This week, the Administration was sent a clear message by the courts – they cannot continue to skirt the law in their war on the environment in favor of Big Oil and other large corporations – including Secretary Bernhardt’s former clients. Given this ruling, the Department of the Interior should immediately withdraw their proposed rulemaking that codifies the M-opinion as the courts have now found it to be on weak legal grounds.”