Environment and climate change adversaries made great headway in the last 96 hours. On Friday, February 17, Scott Pruitt was confirmed along largely partisan votes to head the EPA.
In what appears to be the first executive actions regarding environmental deregulation, President Trump is preparing statements to roll back Obama-era rules on water and climate policy. From the Washington Post:
“One executive order — which the Trump administration will couch as reducing U.S. dependence on other countries for energy — will instruct the Environmental Protection Agency to begin rewriting the 2015 regulation that limits greenhouse-gas emissions from existing electric utilities. It also instructs the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to lift a moratorium on federal coal leasing.”
A second policy appears to set industry-friendly deregulation around about 60% of the nation’s waterways.
While moves to undo these policies will spark new legal battles and entail work within the agencies that could take as long as a year and a half to finalize, the orders could affect investment decisions within the utility, mining, agriculture and real estate sectors, as well as activities on the ground.
In related news, Congress has also passed two measures revoking Obama-era limitations on the mass hunting and trapping of carnivorous wildlife on federal land — effectively allowing baited traps, killing by helicopter, and other cruel hunting practices — as well revoking regulations intended to diminish coal dust run-off into local ground water and streams. Both rules were passed in the last 6 months of the Obama administration, which made their implementation doubtful given the power afforded Congress in the Congress Review Act. (However given the statute’s limits, this effectively means only the most recent regulations will be in jeopardy of quick nullification by the current Congress. Other rules/regulations would have to undergo the typical process of public commentary and review which typically takes years for any one rule.)