This list has grown in number and scope. Those in charge of protecting our environment are instead looting it and leaving it and our people vulnerable to scourges we had thought to be under control. Some of the revocations will be reversed eventually for failure to satisfy the legal and administrative prerequisite for such wholesale changes but, in many cases, the damage will already be done. Altho a few people like E.P.A. Administrator Scott Pruitt have been forced out of his position due to blatant corruption, his replacement is no better.
I keep thinking of the ad from decades ago with the Native Indian chief looking at devastation with one tear rolling down his cheek. Thank goodness for those who are protesting, going to court, and most important of all — getting out the vote.
67 Environmental Rules on the Way Out Under Trump
Since taking office last year, President Trump has made eliminating federal regulations a priority. His administration — with help from Republicans in Congress — has often targeted environmental rules it sees as overly burdensome to the fossil fuel industry, including major Obama-era policies aimed at fighting climate change.
To date, the Trump administration has sought to reverse more than 60 environmental rules, according to a New York Times analysis, based on research from Harvard Law School’s Environmental Regulation Rollback Tracker, Columbia Law School’s Climate Tracker and other sources.
- 33 rules have been overturned
- 24 rollbacks are in progress
- 10 rollbacks are in limbo
The numbers above reflect three types of policy changes: 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. (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 have enjoyed a much closer relationship with key figures in the Trump administration than under President Barack Obama.
Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, has frequently met with industry executives and lobbyists. (As Oklahoma’s attorney general, Mr. Pruitt sued the agency he now oversees 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.
Here are the details for each policy targeted by the administration so far — including who lobbied to get the regulations changed. Are there rules we missed? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @nytclimate.
1. Revoked Obama-era flood standards for federal infrastructure projects
This Obama-era rule, revoked by Mr. Trump last August, required that federal agencies protect new infrastructure projects by building to higher flood standards. Building trade groups and many Republican lawmakers opposed it as costly and burdensome.
2. Rejected a proposed ban on a potentially harmful pesticide
3. Lifted a freeze on new coal leases on public lands
4. Canceled a requirement for oil and gas companies to report methane emissions
5. Revoked a rule that prevented coal companies from dumping mining debris into local streams
6. Approved the Keystone XL pipeline
7. Approved the Dakota Access pipeline
8. Prohibited funding third-party projects through federal lawsuit settlements, which could include environmental programs
9. Repealed a ban on offshore oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic and Arctic oceans
10. Proposed the use of seismic air guns for gas and oil exploration in the Atlantic
Following a executive order in April last year known as the America-First Offshore Energy Strategy, the Trump administration began an application process to allow five oil and gas companies to survey the Atlantic using seismic air guns, which fire loud blasts that can harm whales, fish and turtles. The Obama administration had previously denied such permits.
11. Revoked a 2016 order protecting the northern Bering Sea region in Alaska
12. Repealed an Obama-era rule regulating royalties for oil, gas and coal
13. Withdrew guidance for federal agencies to include greenhouse gas emissions in environmental reviews
Republicans in Congress opposed the guidelines, which advised federal agencies to account for possible climate effects in environmental impact reviews. They argued that the government lacked the authority to make such recommendations, and that the new rules would slow down the issuing of permits. Critics say that by eliminating the guidance, the administration is inviting lawsuits that could slow down permitting even more.
14. Relaxed the environmental review process for federal infrastructure projects
Oil and gas industry leaders said the permit-issuing process for new infrastructure projects was costly and cumbersome. In an August executive order, Mr. Trump announced a policy he said would streamline the process for pipelines, bridges, power lines and other federal projects. The order put a single federal agency in charge of navigating environmental reviews, instituted a 90-day timeline for permit authorization decisions and set a goal of completing the full process in two years.
15. Announced intent to stop payments to the Green Climate Fund
16. Removed a number of species from the endangered list
Arguing that they no longer warranted protection, the Trump administration removed a number of species from the endangered and threatened species lists, including the Yellowstone grizzly bear, which the Obama administration had also proposed removing. While Republicans had long pushed to have the bears removed, environmentalists said the population had not yet recovered.
17. Overturned a ban on the hunting of predators in Alaskan wildlife refuges
Alaskan politicians opposed the law, which prevented hunters from shooting wolves and grizzly bears on wildlife refuges, arguing that the state has authority over those lands. Congress passed a bill revoking the rule, which Mr. Trump signed into law.
18. Withdrew proposed limits on endangered marine mammals caught by fishing nets on the West Coast
Under Mr. Trump, the National Marine Fisheries Service withdrew the proposed rule, noting high costs to the fishing industry and arguing that sufficient protections were already in place.
19. Stopped discouraging the sale of plastic water bottles in national parks
20. Rescinded an Obama-era order to consider climate change in managing natural resources in national parks
21. Revoked directive for federal agencies to mitigate the environmental impacts of projects they approve
In a March 2017 executive order, Mr. Trump revoked an Obama-era memorandum that instructed five federal agencies to “avoid and then minimize” the impacts of development on water, wildlife, land and other natural resources. The memo also encouraged private investment in restoration projects.
22. Directed agencies to stop using an Obama-era calculation of the “social cost of carbon”
As part of an expansive March 2017 executive order, Mr. Trump directed agencies to stop using an Obama-era calculation that helped rulemakers monetize the costs of carbon emissions and instead base their estimates on a 2003 cost-benefit analysis. Despite the federal rollback, several states, including New York and Minnesota, are using the Obama-era metric to help reduce emissions from their energy grids.
23. Revoked an update to the Bureau of Land Management’s public land use planning process
Republicans and fossil fuel industry groups opposed the updated planning rule for public lands, arguing that it gave the federal government too much power at the expense of local and business interests. Congress passed a bill revoking the rule, which Mr. Trump signed into law.
24. Removed copper filter cake, an electronics manufacturing byproduct, from the “hazardous waste” list
Samsung petitioned the E.P.A. to delist the waste product, which is produced during electroplating at its Texas semiconductor facility. The E.P.A. granted the petition after a public comment period.
25. Reversed a proposed rule that mines prove they can pay for cleanup
Mining groups and Western-state Republicans opposed an Obama-era proposal that mining companies prove they have the money to clean up pollution left behind at their sites. Abandoned mines have left waterways polluted in many parts of the country. In December, the Trump administration rejected the proposed rule, saying it would impose an undue burden on rural America and on an important sector of the economy.
26. Withdrew a proposed rule reducing pollutants at sewage treatment plants
In December 2016, the E.P.A. proposed a rule requiring sewage treatment plants to further regulate emissions, which can include hazardous air pollutants, including formaldehyde, toluene and tetrachloroethylene.
27. Overturned ban on use of lead ammunition on federal lands
28. Amended fishing regulations for a number of species
After a push by commercial fishing groups, the Trump administration began to roll back regulations on catch limits and season openings for various species of fish, including gray triggerfish, while proposing to review rules for others.
29. Announced plans to rescind water pollution regulations for fracking on federal and Indian lands
30. Rolled back an Obama-era policy aimed at protecting migratory birds
In December, Mr. Trump’s administration reversed a statement that energy companies might face prosecution for accidentally killing birds while operating their facilities.
31. Rollled back the Department of Interior’s climate and mitigation policies
32. Overturned a Clinton-era rule designed to regulate industrial polluters
33. Reversed an Obama-era rule that required braking system upgrades for trains carrying oil and ethanol
34. Proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan
35. Announced intent to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement
36. Reopened a review of fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks
37. Proposed reopening nearly all U.S. waters for oil and gas drilling
38. Recommended shrinking or modifying 10 national monuments
39. Reviewing 12 marine protected areas
40. Reviewing limits on toxic discharge from power plants into public waterways
41. Reviewing rules regulating coal ash waste from power plants
42. Reviewing emissions standards for new, modified and reconstructed power plants
In addition to the Clean Power Plan, Mr. Trump’s Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence called on the E.P.A. to review a related rule limiting carbon dioxide emissions from new, modified and reconstructed power plants.
43. Reviewing emissions rules for power plant start-ups, shutdowns and malfunctions
Power companies and other industry groups sued the Obama administration over the rule, which asked 36 states to tighten emissions exemptions for power plants and other facilities. The E.P.A. under Mr. Trump asked the court to suspend the case while the rule undergoes review.
44. Announced plans to review greater sage grouse habitat protections
45. Ordered review of regulations on oil and gas drilling in national parks where mineral rights are privately owned
Mr. Trump’s March executive order called for a review of Obama-era updates to a 50-year-old rule regulating oil and gas drilling in national parks with shared ownership. (Most national parks are owned solely by the government, and drilling in them is banned. In some parks, though, the government owns the surface but the mineral rights are privately held.)
46. Reviewing new safety regulations on offshore drilling
47. Ordered a review of a rule regulating offshore oil and gas exploration by floating vessels in the Arctic
48. Proposed ending a restriction on exploratory drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Republicans have long sought to to open the Alaska refuge to gas and oil drilling. In August, an Interior Department internal memo proposed lifting restrictions on exploratory seismic studies in the region, which is home to polar bears, caribou and other Arctic animals. In December, Republicans in Congress lifted the decades-old ban on drilling in the refuge as part of a sweeping tax bill. President Trump signed the bill into law on Dec. 22.
49. Ordered a review of federal regulations on hunting methods in Alaska
Obama-era rules prohibited certain hunting methods in Alaska’s national preserves. They overruled state law, which had allowed hunters to bait bears with food, shoot caribou from boats and kill bear cubs with their mothers present. Alaska sued the Interior Department, claiming that the regulations affected traditional harvesting. The Trump administration ordered a review.
50. Proposed repeal of a requirement for reporting emissions on federal highways
51. Proposed a repeal of emissions standards for trailers and glider kits
52. Suspended rule limiting methane emissions on public lands
53. Announced plans to review permitting programs for air-polluting plants
In an October memorandum, Mr. Pruitt announced that a panel would be established to reconsider a permitting process for building new facilities like power plants that pollute the air. “The potential costs, complexity, and delays that may arise” from the permitting process, Mr. Pruitt wrote, could “slow the construction of domestic energy exploration, production or transmission facilities.”
54. Overturned a ban on using parts of migratory birds in handicrafts made in Alaska
The Alaska Migratory Bird Co-Management Council — which includes federal, state and Alaska Native representation — recommended changes to the rule, which banned making handicrafts in Alaska from inedible parts of migratory birds that were hunted for food.
55. Announced a review of coal dust limits in mines
56. Announced rewriting of rule meant to reduce haze in national parks
57. Announced plans to revise environmental review process for forest “restoration” projects
58. Proposed rescinding a rule that protected tributaries and wetlands under the Clean Water Act
59. Reviewing a rule limiting methane emissions at new oil and gas drilling sites
60. Put on hold rules aimed at cutting methane emissions from landfills
61. Delayed a lawsuit over a rule regulating airborne mercury emissions from power plants
Coal companies, along with Republican officials in several states, sued over this Obama-era rule, which regulates the amount of mercury and other pollutants that fossil fuel power plants can emit. They argued that the rule helped shutter coal plants, many of which were already compliant. Oral arguments in the case have been delayed while the E.P.A. reviews the rule.
62. Delayed a rule aiming to improve safety at facilities that use hazardous chemicals
63. Continuing review of proposed groundwater protections for certain uranium mines
Republicans in Congress came out against a 2015 rule which regulated byproduct materials from a type of uranium mining. They said the E.P.A. had not conducted an adequate cost-benefit analysis of the rule. The Obama administration submitted a revised proposal one day before Mr. Trump was sworn into office. The Trump administration must now decide the fate of the rule.
64. Delayed publishing efficiency standards for household appliances
65. Delayed compliance dates for federal building efficiency standards
Republicans in Congress opposed the rules, which set efficiency standards for the design and construction of new federal buildings. The Trump administration delayed compliance until Sept. 30, but it is unclear whether the rules are now in effect.
66. Withdrew a rule that would help consumers buy more fuel-efficient tires
The rule required tire manufacturers and retailers to provide consumers with information about replacement car tires. The tire industry opposed several aspects of the rule, but had been working with the government to refine it. The Trump administration withdrew the proposed rule in January but has not said whether it may be reinstated.
67. Halted rulemaking on limiting greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft. Aircraft account for 3 percent of the United States’ total greenhouse gas emissions, but in 2017, the E.P.A. changed the status of a proposed rule limiting aircraft emissions to “inactive” on the agency’s website.
Some other rules were
reinstated after legal challenges
Environmental groups have sued the Trump administration over many of the proposed rollbacks, and, in some cases, have succeeded in reinstating environmental rules.
1. Suspended effort to lift restrictions on mining in Bristol Bay, Alaska. A Canadian company sued the E.P.A. over an Obama-era plan to restrict mining in Bristol Bay, an important salmon fishery. The Trump administration settled the suit and allowed the company to apply for permits to build a large gold and copper mine in the area. Alaska Republicans, including Senator Murkowski, supported the mine. Commercial fishermen and Governor Bill Walker of Alaska, an independent, opposed it. In January, the E.P.A. announced that it was reversing course and suspending its effort to withdraw the Obama-era restrictions on mining in the area. Instead, the agency will keep those restrictions in place while it learns more about the risk the mine, if built, would pose to the region’s fisheries and resources.
2. Delayed by one year a compliance deadline for new ozone pollution standards, but later reversed course. Mr. Pruitt initially delayed the compliance deadline for a 2015 national ozone standard, but reversed course after 15 states and the District of Columbia sued. In November, the E.P.A. certified those areas as being in compliance with the rule but refused to say which areas violated it. In December — after public health and environmental groups, 14 states and the District of Columbia sued the E.P.A. — a court ordered the agency to file a report on the remaining areas. In January, the E.P.A. further delayed its announcement untill April.
3. Reinstated rule limiting the discharge of mercury by dental offices into municipal sewers. The E.P.A. reinstated an Obama-era rule that regulated the disposal of dental amalgam, a filling material that contains mercury and other toxic metals. The agency initially put the rule on hold as part of a broad regulatory freeze, but environmental groups sued. The American Dental Association came out in support of the rule.