Patagonia Fights Trump’s Monument Decision With Announced Lawsuit
The outdoor apparel and gear company has made the decision to file suit against the Trump administration over its move to cut back protected lands in Utah.
While nonprofit environmental groups and Indian tribes this week sued President Donald Trump’s administration over his decision to drastically cut back two national monument sites in Utah, one for-profit company has also decided to step into the legal fray.
Patagonia, a Ventura, California-based company that sells outdoor apparel and gear and that has roughly $800 million in annual revenue, explained Wednesday why it was joining the fight. In a statement, CEO Rose Marcario said, “We aren’t going to just stand by. Protecting public lands is a core tenet of our mission and vitally important to our industry, and we feel we need to do everything in our power to protect this special place.”
In a proclamation Dec. 4, Trump said the government would eliminate large parts of Bears Ears National Monument, as well as Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.
In her statement, Marcario listed four overall reasons for Patagonia’s suit, which was expected to be filed late Wednesday. They were:
• To carry out the company’s purpose as a “benefit corporation” with articles of incorporation that require it to confront environmental threats.
• To stand with its grassroots partners. Marcario said Patagonia has donated more than $80 million to partnering environmental groups to protect public lands.
• To enforce the law. As other groups have done, she cited the Antiquities Act of 1906 as giving Congress, not the president, the power to undo a monument designation. Trump has accused environmentalists of lying about what the law says.
• To defend Patagonia’s business and the outdoor recreation industry in general.
“Patagonia’s business relies directly on public lands, like Indian Creek in Bears Ears, which hosts world-class climbing,” Marcario said. National monuments and other special public lands draw millions of visitors a year, and help make outdoor recreation America’s fourth-largest industry, driving $887 billion in annual consumer spending and 7.6 million jobs, according to the Outdoor Industry Association, she added.
The company’s website appeared Wednesday with a stark black-and-white message, saying simply: “The President Stole Your Land.” The website went on to tell individuals and businesses how they could get involved in the fight.
Patagonia general counsel Hilary Dessouky was not immediately available for comment on Wednesday. But since June she has been an outspoken critic after Trump announced he was considering cutting back the lands.
In an interview with Earth Justice, an environmental law firm in June, Dessouky explained why her company threatened to sue Trump. “We didn’t see it as a choice,” she said. “Protecting wild places where natural resources are preserved has always been a core part of our mission. When it looked like much of that work was going to be threatened, it was the next logical step.”
Dessouky said Patagonia has seen an amazing response from its customers. “People are interested. They want to get involved, and we’re going to look for every way we can to bring them into the conversation,” she said.
The general counsel also sits on the board of directors of One Percent For the Planet, a foundation that brings together a network of businesses and individuals to support environmental solutions by donating both money and time to projects.