Election 2020: Three Months till Election Day
The environmental are high: Trump has axed one regulation every two weeks for four years.
Since taking office, Trump has waffled on some issues and shuffled personnel, but on one thing he has held firm: eradicating legal protection of the environment. His motto seems to be: No Regulation Left Standing. Something to keep in mind, as we head toward Election Day. That’s three months away, but some states begin early voting much sooner.
Some of Trump’s targets were well-known and controversial regulations, but the tide of rollbacks has not spared even some regulations supported by industry.
In May, the NY Times located 100 regulations that had already been rolled back or were in process. These regulations run gamut of environmental issues: 27 to allow greater air pollution and carbon emissions, 20 to reduce environmental controls on drilling and mining, 11 to increase water pollution, and others covering endangered species, infrastructure projects, and so on.
Here are some of Trump’s most prominent efforts:
- Repealing Obama’s signature plan to reduce carbon emissions from power plants, and replacing it with a laughable token effort that will increase emissions from some plants.
- Radically reducing federal power to protect wetlands by cutting back on not only a major Obama regulation but even the protections that existed under Bush.
- Freeing carmakers from having to make any significant improvements in fuel efficiency, thereby increasing emissions — a move that not even the carmakers themselves favored.
- Freezing in place air quality standards for ozone and particulates despite strong scientific evidence that current standards are too high to protect public health.
- Gutting the legal basis for rules limiting toxic metal pollution from coal-fired power plants.
- Allowing the oil and gas industry to emit as much methane (a powerful greenhouse gas) as they want.
- A rule weakening protection for endangered and threatened species.
- A White House directive that allows agencies to ignore significant environmental harms and avoid doing environmental impact statements.
- A rule that limits the ability of EPA to consider well-respected publish health studies when it makes new regulation.
Of course, these are only the tip of the iceberg. In the meantime, Trump has issued only a handful of minor regulations extending environmental protections, mostly where the law left no choice.
Maybe you approve of these actions, maybe you don’t. But this is one election where no one can say that the choice doesn’t matter.
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