Rescinding Federal Environmental Rollbacks

Roadmaps for nearly 200 actions

The Trump Administration has rolled back environmental protection in numerous ways, large and small, across the entire federal government. From power plant mercury emissions to protection for endangered species, from climate change data on government websites to state authority to regulate air pollution, the Administration has undermined the process, structure, and substance of environmental law, regulation, and protection.

The incoming Biden Administration can reverse most of these rollbacks but it will take some concerted effort. The Center for Law, Energy & the Environment at UC Berkeley has compiled nearly 200 rollbacks across all federal departments with roles in environmental regulation, from the Environmental Protection Agency to the Department of Labor. (We identified rollbacks based on information from the Columbia Law School Sabin Center’s Climate Deregulation Tracker, Harvard Law School’s Environmental & Energy Law Program Regulatory Rollback Tracker, and other sources.) Today we are launching a website to track these rollbacks. To identify top priorities, we have assessed each rollback for impact and difficulty-of-reversal. Impact was determined based on the rollback’s effect on the environment, health, climate, and across federal programs. Reversal was deemed “easy” if the rollback was undertaken through executive order, agency guidance, policy, discretion, website content, and proposed actions that likely can be reversed by executive or agency direction. We have accordingly created a list of rollbacks that can be reversed quickly by the new administration by the President or heads of agencies—we call these “Day 2 actions.” For the more difficult to reverse actions, like final agency rules, we identify strategies to undo the rollbacks. Some of these will require close attention and process. We credit the Sabin Center where we have adapted from its “Climate Reregulation in a Biden Administration” report.

The website will also include a tracker to gauge progress on reversals and we are also cataloging “Day 2” actions: https://www.law.berkeley.edu/research/clee/day-2-actions/. . We encourage suggestions and comments, particularly identification of rollbacks that might be missing from the list. We hope that this tool will be helpful to policymakers, advocates, and lawyers seeking to undo the damage of the past four years.  Ted

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Ken is the director of Project Climate at UC Berkeley's Center for Law, Energy, & Environment. He spent eight years as a Senior Policy Advisor to Governor Jerry Brow…

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