Don't Read This Story If You're Worried About the Environment

The Lempert Report
June 22, 2018

Pulling the US out of the Paris Climate Accord sent a power message to those of us that are concerned about climate change – especially its effect on agriculture

Now it gets worse. According to the NY Times, to date, the Trump administration has sought to reverse more than 60 environmental rules based on research from Harvard Law School’s Environmental Regulation Rollback Tracker, Columbia Law School’s Climate Trackerand other sources. 

There are three types of policy changes taking place: rules that have been officially reversed; announcements and changes still in progress, pending reviews and other rulemaking procedures; and regulations whose status is unclear because of delays or court actions. The Times reports that several rules were undone but later reinstated after legal challenges

The process of rolling back the regulations has not been smooth, in part because the administration has tried to bypass the formal rulemaking process in some cases. On more than one occasion, the administration has tried to roll back a rule by announcing its intent but skipping steps such as notifying the public and asking for comment. This has led to a new kind of legal challenge, according to Joseph Goffman, executive director of Harvard’s environmental law program.  

Courts are now being asked to intervene to get agencies to follow the process.

Regulations have often been reversed as a direct response to petitions from oil, coal and gas companies and other industry groups, which according to the NY Times, have enjoyed a much closer relationship with key figures in the Trump administration than under President Barack Obama.

Scott Pruitt, now head of the Environmental Protection Agency, had sued the EPA as Oklahoma’s attorney general, more than a dozen times to try to block Obama-era rules. The E.P.A. has been involved in nearly one-third of the policy reversals identified by The Times.