How has Trump impacted environmental law? What’s going to happen next?
CLEE has issued a new report assessing the state of play in environmental law seven months of the Trump presidency. The report, 200 Days & Counting, reviews the Administration’s environmental proposals and offers a glimpse into what may be coming down the pike.
The report focuses on the mechanisms that Trump and congressional Republicans could use to attack the environment, along with methods of resisting their efforts. There are many different possibilities, each with its own potential results and its own procedures: legislation, budget, enforcement, rule-making, executive orders, and state and local action.
Legislation making major changes in federal environmental laws involves the most serious potential harm, since it could permanently gut environmental protection. Fortunately, such legislation seems unlikely at present, barring a major political shift in favor of the GOP in 2018 or 2020. Given the current political environment, our assessment concludes that the greatest threats are severe budget cuts and severely reduced environmental enforcement, although other areas such as rule-making also pose serious problems. The report discusses the prospects for litigation to block the Administration’s efforts to roll back protections against pollution and destruction of public lands, as well as the prospects for making continued environmental progress, despite Trump, at the state and local level.
Here is a table summarizing our conclusions. (Those of you receiving this by email may need to go to the website if you receive the table in garbled form.)
|Probability of Harm/Action||Degree of Harm/Benefits||Reversibility of Change|
|Legislation||Low||Potentially High||Potentially Low|
|Budget||High||Medium to High||Potentially High (with important exceptions)|
|Pollution & Climate Change||Medium||Potentially High||Medium|
|Public Lands||High||Medium||Mostly High|
|Executive Orders||Medium||Low to Medium (except foreign affairs)||High|
|State & Local Action||High||Medium||Medium to High|
Altogether, this is not a pretty picture, but there are ways of fighting back against many of the Administration’s efforts.