Distracted though we are by Donald Trump’s tweets and persona, we can’t ignore his administration’s deregulatory actions. The rules he has reversed at the EPA and at the Department of the Interior should shock the sensibilities of Americans in both parties. Remember, it was Richard Nixon, a Republican, who created the EPA, and it was a Republican president, Theodore Roosevelt, who championed the preservation of western lands in particular. Trump is not in their tradition.
Last month, three New York Times reporters compiled a list of 100 environmental rules that the Trump administration has either already reversed or is in the process of reversing.
According to the article,
“The bulk of the rollbacks identified by the Times have been carried out by the Environmental Protection Agency, which repealed and replaced the Obama-era emissions rules for power plants and vehicles; weakened protections for more than half the nation's wetlands; and withdrew the legal justification for restricting mercury emissions from power plants. At the same time, the Interior Department has worked to open up more land for oil and gas leasing by cutting back protected areas and limiting wildlife protections.”
Notice that this excerpt alone has four links to source documents. Click here to read the full online version of that article with links.
The article goes on to detail the 100 rules which have already been reversed or are in the process of being reversed, with links to additional information. To give you a taste of how thorough the article is, here are just the first 10 completed reversals under the category of “Air Pollution and Emissions.”
1. Weakened Obama-era fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards for passenger cars and light trucks.E.P.A. and Transportation Department | Read more »2. Revoked California’s power to set stricter tailpipe emissions standards than the federal government.E.P.A. | Read more »3. Withdrew the legal justification for an Obama-era rule that limited mercury emissions from coal power plants.E.P.A. | Read more »4. Replaced the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which would have set strict limits on carbon emissions from coal- and gas-fired power plants, with a new version that would let states set their own rules.Executive Order; E.P.A. | Read more »5. Canceled a requirement for oil and gas companies to report methane emissions.E.P.A. | Read more »6. Revised and partially repealed an Obama-era rule limiting methane emissions on public lands, including intentional venting and flaring from drilling operations.Interior Department | Read more »7. Loosened a Clinton-era rule designed to limit toxic emissions from major industrial polluters.E.P.A. | Read more »8. Revised a program designed to safeguard communities from increases in pollution from new power plants to make it easier for facilities to avoid emissions regulations.E.P.A. | Read more »9. Amended rules that govern how refineries monitor pollution in surrounding communities.E.P.A. | Read more »10. Weakened an Obama-era rule meant to reduce air pollution in national parks and wilderness areas.E.P.A. | Read more »
It’s likely that you have heard about only a small number of these policy changes implemented by the Trump administration. And maybe you agree with one or two of them and a half dozen of the other 90 reversals itemized in The Times’ article, but how do you feel about the overall theme of abandoning decades of environmental protections?
If you’re a Trump supporter, we know that nothing will change your mind, even the destruction of the planet which your grandchildren will inherit, but for the rest of us this reinforces the importance of this election.
Postscript: The Brookings Institution has a useful tool for tracking deregulation by the Trump administration: Here's the link: