William & Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review
From the Northern Plains to the Carolina Coast: An Environmental Perspective on Nationwide Injunctions
This Note offers a perspective on nationwide injunctions informed by a selection of environmental cases from roughly the last two decades. In doing so, it attempts to draw broader conclusions about when, if ever, federal courts should prohibit the enforcement of environmental policies nationwide. This Note proceeds as follows: Part I defines “nationwide injunction,” discusses the recent history of nationwide injunctions against the federal executive branch, and describes the absence of a clear legal standard governing nationwide relief. Part II examines six environmental cases in which plaintiffs have sought, or federal courts have ordered, nationwide relief. Part III suggests that, in the context of environmental law, nationwide injunctions are justified when necessary to provide complete relief to plaintiffs and, as such, should remain an available remedy to the federal courts. However, Part III also argues that several of the rationales offered to support nationwide injunctions beyond providing complete relief should be retired.
This abstract has been adapted from the author's introduction.