Trump Administration Wreaks Havoc with Environmental Regulation Rollbacks: Will the Environment Ever Recover?

trump-2546104_1920-300x211Since taking over, the Trump Administration has wreaked havoc on the environment, destroying environmental protections left and right. Trump has targeted rules that he thinks are burdensome to big business, even though environmental protections are generally good for the economy. Closing his eyes to this fact, Trump issued the “Presidential Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth.” This Order directs the heads of agencies, like the EPA, to review all existing regulations “that potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources, with particular attention to oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy resources.”

Trump’s Executive Order has certainly been efficient at endangering the earth. As of June 2019, the Trump Administration has rolled back or is in the process of rolling back over 80 environmental rules and regulations. These rollbacks and proposed rollbacks reach every aspect of the environment, from emissions to endangered species. Rollbacks currently in effect include:

  • Lowering fines for automakers who do not meet average fuel efficiency standards
  • Eliminating the Clean Power Plan and replacing it with an industry-friendly alternative that allows at least 60 million more tons of carbon dioxide emissions
  • Not enforcing against pipeline operators who do not follow previously established maintenance and inspection requirements
  • eagle-3782518_1920-300x200Change the Endangered Species Act to make it easier to remove a species from the endangered or threatened list, allow economic assessments to determine if a species warrants protection, and make it harder to protect wildlife from the threats posed by climate change.
  • Revising methane and waste prevention requirements which will delay the detection and repair of natural gas leaks and increase methane emissions
  • Repealing program that required developers to pay for the impacts of their activities on public lands
  • Lowering the renewable fuel standards that mandated the minimum amount of renewable fuels that had to be in gasoline and biodiesel
  • Repealing a rule that required the disclosure of details regarding fracking operations, including the disclosure of chemicals involved
  • Withdrawing the policy for prosecuting energy companies that accidentally kill birds protected under the Migratory Birds Treaty Act
  • Opening public lands to oil and gas drilling
  • Nullifying a rule that minimized the adverse effects of coal mining on streams and other water bodies
  • Withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement

This list represents just some of the Trump Administration’s rollbacks of environmental regulations. It doesn’t include the multitudes of rollbacks in the rulemaking process right now. For a list of all of the Trump Administration’s regulatory rollbacks, visit here.

All of these rollbacks have dire consequences for the environment and human health. Federal data suggest that the air quality in the United States is worsening and greenhouse gas emissions are rising. In fact, the Health Effect’s Institute’s State of Global Air 2019 Report ranked the United States as 123rd out of 195 nations when it comes to smog. Since numerous reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says we need to take urgent, immediate, action to combat climate change before it is too late, every rollback is disastrous.

How can you help halt the damage? The most immediate thing you can do is comment on a proposed rule (for a guide on how to do so effectively, click here). Agencies must solicit and respond to comments from the public. There will typically be a 30-day comment period after announcing a proposed rule. Effective comments can influence the rulemaking process, and they can later provide an argument for someone to legally challenge the rule if it does go into effect. Visit federalregister.gov, where Federal agencies are required to announce proposed rules and rule changes to watch for rules you might want to comment on. In addition, you can support candidates and politicians who understand the seriousness of the situation and are committed to protecting the environment.

Ultimately, until there is an Administration that respects the environment and puts the proper focus on protecting it, the earth and its inhabitants are in danger. It’s time for an Administration that doesn’t value industry above all else!

Blog written by Dayna Smith

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