Epic Rollback of Environmental Protections

Image result for environmental rollbackDespite consistent criticism of this administration as lacking coherence or vision for many national issues, it has achieved a remarkable scorecard in eliminating environmental protections in laws and rules.

 

The 50-year-old National Environmental Policy Act is facing a rollback, permitting developers to author the environmental impact statements of projects including highways, pipelines, and some gas and oil projects.

Last week, it was announced that the 50-year-old National Environmental Policy Act is facing a rollback permitting developers to author the environmental impact statements of projects including highways, pipelines, and some gas and oil projects. Fifty years of a requirement for federal agencies to evaluate the effects of such projects on climate many now be ending. The sole grace at the moment is that the proposal must undergo a 60-day open comment period.

In December, the New York Times published a scorecard based upon research from the Harvard and Columbia law schools outlining the relentless effort by the administration to achieve its goals. See https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/climate/trump-environment-rollbacks.html.

The list represents two types of policy changes:  rules officially reversed and rules in progress of reversal.

Category

COMPLETED: 58

IN PROCESS: 37

Rollbacks in Category (Total: 95)

Air pollution/emissions

16

9

25

Drilling/extraction

10

9

19

Infrastructure/planning

11

1

12

Animals

7

3

10

Toxic substances/safety

5

3

8

Water pollution

4

6

10

Other

5

6

1

 

The process has not always been without difficulty. In some cases, the administration has failed to provide a strong legal argument in favor of proposed changes and agencies have skipped key steps in the rulemaking process, such as notifying the public and asking for comment. In several cases, courts have ordered agencies to enforce their own rules.

Several environmental rules were rolled back and then later reinstated, often following legal challenges. Other regulations remain mired in court.

All told, the Trump administration’s environmental rollbacks could significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions and lead to thousands of extra deaths from poor air quality every year, according to a report prepared by New York University Law School’s State Energy and Environmental Impact Center.

The prospect of four additional years under this administration poses, in the jargon of journalists, an existential threat to the environment and an acceleration of climate change. The prospect of a Democratic administration is one that will absorb political capital to reverse the damage already done . . . not just in this area but in so many others.

 



Categories: Issues, Local, National

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