Eight Setbacks for Trump

Trump hasn’t had things all his own way. Not by any means.

The Trump Administration has begun some bold initiatives but it’s too soon to know how they will fare. It also had some early success with blocking Obama’s regulation in Congress. But it has also had some significant setbacks, with courts or Congress rejecting positions it had embraced. Those setbacks make it clear that, bad as Trump is, he’s not likely to have things all his own way. Here are some of the major setbacks.

  1. The Tenth Circuit held that the government was required to consider climate change impacts when issuing coal leases. This ruling will make it harder for the Administration in other issues involving fossil fuels. The agency argued that denying the coal leases would not affect global emissions because they would simply substitute for coal mined elsewhere. In rejecting the agency’s analysis, the court that ”it was an abuse of discretion to rely on an economic assumption, which contradicted basic economic principles.” The court also went out of its way to rebut the agency’s claim that climate change is an issue “on the frontiers of science,” entitling the agency to special deference. WildEarth Guardians v. United States Bureau of Land Management, 870 F.3d 1222 (10th Cir. 2017).
  2. In a case involving approval of a pipeline, the DC Circuit took the same position about consideration of climate impacts and then at the end of January refused the Trump Administration’s request to soften the remedy.
  3. The D.C. Circuit reversed the Trump Administration’s suspension of an EPA rule limiting methane emissions from oil and gas operations. This ruling is noteworthy because it limits the Administration’s ability to get rid of existing rules without going through a formal rule-making process. The court rejected EPA’s arguments that it had inherent authority to suspend rules and that its attempt to base the suspension on a specific provision of the statute was flatly contradicted by the record. Clean Air Council v. Pruitt, 862 F.3d 1 (D.C. Cir. 2017).
  4. The Ninth Circuit demanded that EPA move promptly to resolve a rule making regulating lead paint. Since delay is one of the most insidious forms of deregulation, this decision is significant as an indication that judges are unwilling to tolerate indefinite foot-dragging. The court put heavy pressure on the agency to move forward, directing it to issue a proposed rule within ninety days and a final rule within six months.” In re Community Voice, 878 F.3d 779 (9th Cir. 2017).
  5. FERC rejected Rick Perry’s proposal for consumers to subsidize coal-fired power plants. The agency said Perry’s proposal failed to satisfy clear and fundamental legal requirements.” Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Order Terminating Rulemaking Proceeding, Initiating New Proceeding, and Establishing Additional Procedures, Docket No. RM18-1-000 (Jan. 8, 2018).
  6. The Senate rejected the effort to use the Congressional Review Act to overturn stricter controls on methane leaks and flaring in oil and gas operations on federal lands. According to the Washington Post, “the rule would prevent roughly 180,000 tons a year of methane from escaping into the atmosphere and would boost federal revenue between $3 million and $13 million a year because firms only pay royalties on the oil and gas they capture and contain.”
  7. Trump’s 2017 budget proposal had draconian cuts for environmental programs, ranging from EPA to the Department of Energy’s research programs. Some modest cuts came out of Congress, but the proposal seemed to be mostly ignored by Congress. As a result, Trump has been unable to use the President’s role in budgeting as a method of setting policy.
  8. Just this week, Trump was forced to withdraw the nomination of climate denier Kathleen Hartnett White to head the Council on Environmental Quality. In 2016, she said that rather than being a pollutant, carbon dioxide is “the gas of life.”

As Pruitt and Zinke try to implement environmental rollbacks, we can only hope that more of these setbacks will confront them. Given that a President’s influence is typically largest in the first year after the election, this isn’t a bad start for the effort to resist his policies.


, , , , ,

Reader Comments

4 Replies to “Eight Setbacks for Trump”

  1. Trump is indeed the worst President/politician in my lifetime, which Legal Planet and Robert Reich document very well daily.

    However the worst threat we are faced with today is Global Warming that is out of control in California, America and around the world.

    We are totally failing to control climate changes due to failures in communications by our intellectual class to inform, educate and motivate the public to demand solutions that can be implemented today to protect our newest and all future generations from an unacceptable quality of life due to our political and intellectual failures today.

    Will preeminent intellectuals at Legal Planet ever be able to figure out a way to communicate with the public so as to enable us to adapt in time to protect our future or are we truly doomed to failure as documented by CALIFORNIA alumni magazine in their 2006 “Global Warning” special issue?


    1. Anthony said;
      “….Trump is indeed the worst President/politician in my lifetime…”

      Dear Anthony,
      Both Dan and yourself are not very charitable to our fine President. Despite our petty differences on global warming we should all recognize and appreciate the fact that abandoning the Paris agreement and terminating the Clean Power Plan are great policy and regulatory achievements which have garnered much respect among reasonable and responsible citizens who are not in the camp of deluded fanatics.

      President Trump may be a little rough around edges but he is undeniably a great President who arrived at the right time to rescue America from the darkness of liberal immorality. Make America Great Again and just be happy.
      Have a good day and try to behave.


      1. BQRQ, our democracy is threatened by two groups of Washington politicians, those who are indentured by the Power of Money that is producing out of control global warming, violence and inequalities, and those who are failing to protect American Democracy and our quality of life.

        Tragically for our newest generations, none of our institutions appear to have leaders who are producing solutions in time to protect us from this failure mode.

  2. Dan,

    Trump has most certainly had far too many things all his own way, especially since he lied his way into the Presidency by proving to be a worst case scenario of Lincoln’s “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time —“ that has allowed oligarchs like him to overthrow our system of justice, and now, American Democracy.

    Yesterday, NYT Op-Ed Columnist Maureen Dowd published “Trump Shows Us the Way” that you should also consider for your list:

    To amplify one of her statements, I stopped believing in our institution of lawyers and judges when Trump proved that NDAs can protect coward, traitor and pervert oligarchs like him to overthrow American Democracy and our system of justice by indenturing lawyers and judges to lie and enable lies using our courts.

    It must also be emphasized that Trump and congress now threaten the future of the human race because far too many people accept global warming denials by far too many corrupt politicians and oligarchs who rule over Washington under Trump today.

    So we continue to fail to learn from the lessons of history documented by Will and Ariel Durant, especially the paramount fact of life that too many civilizations have failed because politicians and intellectuals fail to meet the challenges of change at our increasing peril with no leadership in sight to protect us from oligarchs like Trump.

Comments are closed.

About Dan

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

READ more

About Dan

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

READ more