Trump Can’t Stall on Environmental Regulation Any Longer

As part of Donald Trump’s campaign, he promised to cut through the red tape of federal regulations, radically reducing the number of rules applying to every aspect of American life, from drug labels to power plant emissions. It proved popular with small government conservatives, who believe the United States is suffering under the weight of an undue burden of regulation.

While the Trump administration has struggled to make good on many promises, this is one area where Trump’s appointees to federal agencies have made some headway – especially with environmental regulations.

Agencies can’t simply repeal existing regulations without going through a lengthy process, but regulations that were still underway at the time the president took office have been repeatedly delayed.

Often, the claim is that there wasn’t enough time to solicit input on an issue from stakeholders — including members of the public — so the proposed regulation needs to be held back to collect that information.

Seems legitimate, right? We wouldn’t want a regulation to go into effect if it hadn’t been carefully reviewed by a host of federal agencies, with opportunities for the public to weigh in.

The problem, though, is that this is clearly a stalling tactic. In fact, the EPA recently lied about a legislation it delayed, claiming stakeholders hadn’t commented, when in fact they had ample opportunity to do so — and their feedback was integrated into the final rule.

The goal is to hold regulations back for so long that they’re essentially ground down in a war of attrition. There’s always another reason to delay implementation — and that can extend from weeks to months to even years, if administrators craft their policy carefully enough.

Given that Trump administration appointees are often business contacts rather than people with governmental or scientific experience, this is worrying.

When agencies are headed by people with public interest experience and the skills to understand both the regulatory process and the issues being regulated, the public benefits. For example, under the direction of someone with science policy experience, staffers at the Environmental Protection Agency can draft meaningful regulations that incorporate public feedback.

The first Administrator of the EPA, William Ruckelshaus, is a great example. He was appointed by President Richard Nixon, who drew upon his combined experience as an attorney and his record of involvement with environmental law. Gina McCarthy, one of the administrators who served under President Obama, had extensive experience in public policy and environmental health. Many other administrators in the agency’s history held similar credentials.

The agency’s current administrator, Scott Pruitt, is an attorney with extensive EPA experience – in the form of suing the agency.

A group of environmental organizations just filed a lawsuit against the EPA, arguing that the agency improperly held back sections of an Obama-era rule on methane emissions. The court agreed, saying the agency didn’t have the authority to do so.

This ruling may open the way to a flood of similar lawsuits, which is good news for organizations working to defend the environment. And it may create precedent for challenging similar delays at the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Transportation and many government agencies.

Photo Credit: The White House/Flickr

38 comments

Marie W
Marie W4 months ago

thank you for sharing

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Margie F
Margie FOURIE9 months ago

Okay

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chris B
chris B9 months ago

DT is prez only to his friends. Friends in gas and oil. Wonder what he has on all of his 'LOYAL' supporters in Govt. Did he promise $, jobs in govt, power, blackmail? I don't trust any of them. None have America's best interest and health at heart. Need new blood. 2018

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Margaret G
Margaret G9 months ago

Dan Blossfel d seems to believe that a political party’s regulations favor only that party’s constituents. So how does President Obama’s EPA clean air regulation affect the air of only Democrats?

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heather g
heather g9 months ago

Sympathy extended to USA citizens.

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Debbi -W-
Debbi W9 months ago

Petition signed. Scott Pruitt is the opposite of who should be heading the EPA. I hope, as the author suggests, that those lawsuits will prove to strengthen the established laws or rulings. Those idiots, including trump, don't understand that in poisoning the air and water they it will affect them, too. Too bag those effects couldn't be targeted at them.

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earthism info
earthism info9 months ago

EPA duty is environmental protection not earnings protection

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Danuta W
Danuta W9 months ago

Thank you for sharing

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Chad A
Chad Anderson9 months ago

I get it that business has things to get done, but that does not mean that business is more important than our lives and the survivability of the planet. How can we be so short-sighted.

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Karin Hanson
Karin Hanson9 months ago

Pathetic Pruitt has made huuuge $$$ sueing the EPA.....now he's making maga $$$$ from oil and gas conglomerates by allowing them to do whatever they please. SAD

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