In the Navy: The Future Strength of Preliminary Injunctions Under NEPA in Light of NRDC v. Winter

June 16, 2012

A preliminary injunction is an incredibly useful and important tool in cases involving the enforcement of environmental statutes and regulations. Parties hoping to protect the environment will often seek preliminary injunctions to prevent environmental harm from occurring while the case is being litigated in court. In Winter v. National Resource Defense Council (NRDC), the Supreme Court held that a lower court acted improperly in issuing a preliminary injunction that placed restrictions on the Navy’s ability to conduct training exercises off the coast of southern California. The Court’s decision in this case is improper and calls into question the efficacy of preliminary injunctions in future environmental enforcement cases, especially when it comes to cases brought against the military. In cases like this one, the Court should adopt a new approach in reviewing preliminary injunctions that will uphold the power and meaning of environmental protection laws.