Seven Months to Election Day (and Counting)

You may have forgotten, but the clock is still ticking.

You may not have been focused on this, but there will be a Presidential election seven months from today.  The stakes are enormous for environmental law.  In fact, those stakes can be measured in megatons of carbon.

 There’s no question about Trump’s approach to environmental regulation. As of the beginning of this year, ninety-five environmental rollbacks had been launched according to one count. Of those, fifty-eight had been completed. Trump’s campaign website expresses great pride about the deregulatory push:

  • “The Administration actually eliminated 22 regulations for every new regulatory action.

  • “The Administration issued 67 deregulatory actions while only imposing three new regulatory actions.

  • “In FY 2017, the Administration saved $8.1 billion in lifetime net regulatory cost savings, equivalent to $570 million per year.”

The website also proudly reminds voters that “President Trump has rolled back President Obama’s job killing power plan and ended the previous administration’s war on coal.”  It gives him credit for getting the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement, thereby saving “more than $3 trillion annually and 6.5 million industrial sector jobs by 2040.”  As if to emphasize this point, these figures are repeated twice on the same page of the website.

All of this is in stark contrast to the possible Democratic nominees. Both Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders pledge to undo Trump’s campaign against environmental regulation.  Biden, the more moderate candidate and the current front frontrunner, pledges his climate plan will “make a federal investment of $1.7 trillion over the next ten years, leveraging additional private sector and state and local investments to total to more than $5 trillion.” His website promises: “As president, Biden will lead the world to address the climate emergency and lead through the power of example, by ensuring the U.S. achieves a 100% clean energy economy and net-zero emissions no later than 2050.”  Bernie Sanders promises even more dramatic action.

You will have to form your own judgment about whose positions are better.  But do keep in mind this: We vote just over thirty weeks from today. In 214 days, the Nation will decide whether environmental law should go further down Trump’s road. Long after the coronavirus is gone, the global climate will be shaped by this election.


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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…

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