This article was originally published in the New York Times and can be accessed here.
Since taking office in January, 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 the Trump administration has sought to reverse nearly 50 environmental rules, according to an analysis by The New York Times.
24 rules have been overturned
Flood building standards
Proposed ban on a potentially harmful pesticide
Freeze on new coal leases on public lands
Methane reporting requirement
Anti-dumping rule for coal companies
Decision on Keystone XL pipeline
Decision on Dakota Access pipeline
Third-party settlement funds
Offshore drilling ban in the Atlantic and Arctic
Ban on seismic air gun testing in the Atlantic
Northern Bering Sea climate resilience plan
Royalty regulations for oil, gas and coal
Inclusion of greenhouse gas emissions in environmental reviews
Permit-issuing process for new infrastructure projects
Green Climate Fund contributions
Mining restrictions in Bristol Bay, Alaska
Grizzly bear listing as endangered species
Hunting ban on wolves and grizzly bears in Alaska
Protection of whales and sea turtles
Reusable water bottles rule for national parks
National parks climate order
Calculation for “social cost” of carbon
Planning rule for public lands
Copper filter cake listing as hazardous waste
17 rollbacks are in progress
Clean Power Plan
Paris climate agreement
Wetland and tributary protections
Car and truck fuel-efficiency standards
Status of 10 national monuments
Status of 12 marine areas
Limits on toxic discharge from power plants
Coal ash discharge regulations
Emissions standards for new, modified and reconstructed power plants
Emissions rules for power plant start-up and shutdown
Sage grouse habitat protections
Fracking regulations on public lands
Oil rig safety regulations
Regulations for offshore oil and gas exploration by floating vessels
Exploratory drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge
Hunting method regulations in Alaska
Emissions standards for trailers and glider kits
7 rollbacks are in limbo
Methane emission limits at new oil and gas wells
Limits on landfill emissions
Mercury emission limits for power plants
Hazardous chemical facility regulations
Groundwater protections for uranium mines
Efficiency standards for federal buildings
Rule helping consumers buy fuel-efficient tires
The chart above reflects 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. (Another five rules were undone but later reinstated after legal challenges.
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 met almost daily 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 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 email@example.com or tweet @nytclimate.
1. Revoked Obama-era flood standards for federal infrastructure projects
This Obama-era rule, revoked by Mr. Trump in 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 insecticide
Dow Agrosciences, which sells the insecticide chlorpyrifos, opposed a risk analysis by the Obama-era E.P.A. that found the compound posed a risk to fetal brain and nervous system development. Mr. Pruitt rejected the E.P.A.'s analysis, arguing the chemical needed further study.
3. Lifted a freeze on new coal leases on public lands
Coal companies weren't thrilled about the Obama administration's three-year freeze pending an environmental review. Mr. Zinke, the interior secretary, revoked the freeze and review in March. He appointed members to a new advisory committee on coal royalties in September.
4. Canceled a requirement for oil and gas companies to report methane emissions
In March, Republican officials from 11 states wrote a letter to Mr. Pruitt, saying the rule added costs and paperwork for oil and gas companies. The next day, Mr. Pruitt revoked the rule.
5. Revoked a rule that prevented coal companies from dumping mining debris into local streams.
The coal industry said the rule was overly burdensome, calling it part of a “war on coal.” In February, Congress passed a bill revoking the rule, which Mr. Trump signed into law.
6. Approved the Keystone XL pipeline
Republicans, along with oil, gas and steel industry groups, opposed Mr. Obama's decision to block the pipeline, arguing that the project would create jobs and support North American energy independence. After the pipeline company reapplied for a permit, the Trump administration approved it.
7. Approved the Dakota Access pipeline
Republicans criticized Mr. Obama for delaying construction after protests led by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Mr. Trump ordered an expedited review of the pipeline, and the Army approved it. Crude oil began flowing on June 1, but a federal judge later ordered a new environmental review.
8. Prohibited funding third-party projects through federal lawsuit settlements, which could include environmental programs
Companies settling lawsuits with the federal government have sometimes paid for third-party projects, like when Volkswagen put $2.7 billion toward pollution-fighting programs after its emissions cheating scandal. The Justice Department has now prohibited such payments, which some conservatives have called “slush funds.”
9. Repealed a ban on offshore oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic and Arctic oceans
Lobbyists for the oil industry were opposed to Mr. Obama's use of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to permanently ban offshore drilling along parts of the Atlantic coast and much of the ocean around Alaska. Mr. Trump repealed the policy in an April executive order and instructed his interior secretary, Mr. Zinke, to review the locations made available for offshore drilling.
10. Proposed the use of seismic air guns for gas and oil exploration in the Atlantic
Following a executive order in April 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
Mr. Trump revoked Mr. Obama’s 2016 order protecting the Bering Sea and Bering Strait by conserving biodiversity, engaging Alaska Native tribes and building a sustainable economy in the Arctic, which is vulnerable to climate change.
12. Repealed an Obama-era rule regulating royalties for oil, gas and coal
Lobbyists for the fossil fuel industry opposed 2016 Interior Department regulations meant to ensure fair royalties were paid to the government for oil, gas and coal extracted from federal or tribal land. In August, the Trump administration rescinded the rule, saying it caused “confusion and uncertainty”for energy companies.
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 permitting.
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 authorizaton decisions and set a goal of completing the full process in two years.
15. Announced intent to stop payments to the Green Climate Fund
Mr. Trump said he would cancel payments to the fund, a United Nations program that helps developing countries reduce emissions and adapt to climate change. Mr. Obama had pledged $3 billion, $1 billion of which Congress has already paid out over the opposition of some Republicans.
16. Dropped proposed 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 Lisa Murkowski, supported the mine.
17. Removed the Yellowstone grizzly bear from the endangered list
Noting that the species population had “rebounded from as few as 136 bears in 1975 to an estimated 700 today,” the Interior Department delisted the Yellowstone grizzly. Delisting the bears was first formally proposed by the Obama administration in March 2016.
18. 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.
19. 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.
20. Stopped discouraging the sale of plastic water bottles in national parks
The National Park Service had urged parks to reduce or eliminate the sale of disposable plastic water bottles in favor of filling stations and reusable bottles. The International Bottled Water Association called the action unjustified.
21. Rescinded an Obama-era order to consider climate change in managing natural resources in national parks
The 2016 policy, which called for scientific park management, among other objectives, was contested by Republicans. In August, the National Park Service said they rescinded the policy in order to eliminate confusion among the public and National Parks Service employees regarding the Trump administration’s “new vision” for America’s parks.
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. Mr. Trump also disbanded the working group that created estimates for the social cost of carbon.
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. Proposed repeal and replacement of the Clean Power Plan
Coal companies and Republican officials in many states opposed the plan, Mr. Obama’s signature climate policy, which set strict limits on carbon emissions from existing coal- and gas-fired power plants. Mr. Trump issued an executive order in March instructing the E.P.A. to re-evaluate the plan, which is tied up in court and has not yet taken effect. In October, the E.P.A. proposed repealing the plan and opened a public comment period soliciting suggested replacements.
26. Announced intent to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement
Arguing that it tied his hands in matters of domestic energy policy, Mr. Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris accord, under which the United States had pledged to cut emissions by 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. The Trump administration has formally notified the United Nations of its intent to withdraw, but it cannot complete the process until late 2020.
27. Proposed rescinding a rule that protected tributaries and wetlands under the Clean Water Act
Farmers, real estate developers, golf course owners and many Republicans opposed an Obama-era clarification of the Clean Water Act that extended protections over small waterways. Under Mr. Trump's direction, Mr. Pruitt released a proposal in June to roll back the expanded definition.
28. Reopened a review of fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks
Automakers said it would be difficult and costly to meet fuel economy goals they had agreed upon with the Obama administration. Under Mr. Trump, the E.P.A. and Department of Transportation have reopened a standards review for model years 2021 through 2025. The administration is also considering easing penalties on automakers who do not comply with the federal standards.
29. Recommended shrinking or modifying 10 national monuments
Republicans in Congress said the Antiquities Act, which allows presidents to designate national monuments, had been abused by previous administrations. Mr. Obama used the law to protect more than 4 million acres of land and several million square miles of ocean. Mr. Trump ordered a review of recent monuments; his interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, recommended changes for 10 sites.
30. Reviewing 12 marine protected areas
As part of his April executive order aimed at expanding offshore oil and gas drilling, Mr. Trump called for a review of national marine sanctuaries and monuments designated or expanded within the past decade. In June, NOAA announced that 12 protected marine areas were under review.
31. Reviewing limits on toxic discharge from power plants into public waterways
Utility and fossil fuel industry groups opposed the rule, which limited the amount of toxic metals — arsenic, lead and mercury, among others — power plants could release into public waterways. Industry representatives said complying with the guidelines, which were to take effect in 2018, would be extremely expensive. In September, Mr. Pruitt postponed the rule until 2020.
32. Reviewing rules regulating coal ash waste from power plants
Utility industry groups petitioned to change the rule, which regulates how power plants dispose of coal ash in waste pits often located near waterways. The E.P.A. agreed to reconsider the rule.
33. 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.
34. 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.
35. Announced plans to review greater sage grouse habitat protections
Oil and gas industry leaders called the Obama administration's plan for protecting the bird “deeply flawed” and welcomed the Interior Department review, which will reassess restrictions on energy production.
36. Announced plans to rescind water pollution regulations for fracking on federal and Indian lands
Energy companies petitioned the Bureau of Land Management to rescind the rule, which was proposed by Mr. Obama in 2015 but never enforced amid legal challenges. In July, the bureau announced plans to revoke the rule, citing Mr. Trump's "prioritization of domestic energy production."
37. Reviewing new safety regulations on offshore drilling
The American Petroleum Institute and other trade groups wrote to the Trump administration, raising concerns over oil rig safety regulations implemented after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill. In August, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement confirmed it was moving forward with the review. Mr. Trump had ordered a review of the rules earlier in the year.
38. Ordered a review of a rule regulating offshore oil and gas exploration by floating vessels in the Arctic
As part of the expansive executive order on offshore driling, Mr. Trump called for an immediate review of a rule intended to strengthen safety and environmental standards for exploratory drilling in the Arctic. The rule, a response to the 2013 Kulluk accident in the Gulf of Alaska, increased oversight of floating vessels and other mobile offshore drilling units.
39. 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 driling. In August, an Interior Department internal memo proposed lifting restrictions on exploratory seismic studies in the region, which covers more than 30,000 square miles and is home to polar bears, caribou and other Arctic animals.
40. 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.
41. Announced a review of emissions standards for trailers and glider kits
Stakeholders in the transportation industry opposed the Obama-era rule, which for the first time applied emissions standards to trailers and glider vehicles. They argued that the E.P.A. lacked the authority to regulate them, because their products are not motorized.
42. Reviewing a rule limiting methane emissions at new oil and gas drilling sites
Lobbyists for the oil and gas industries petitioned Mr. Pruitt to reconsider a rule limiting emissions of methane and other pollutants from new and modified oil and gas wells. A federal appeals court has ruled that the E.P.A. must enforce the Obama-era regulation while it rewrites the rule. The E.P.A. said it may do so on a “case by case” basis.
43. Put on hold rules aimed at cutting methane emissions from landfills
Waste industry groups objected to this Obama-era regulation, which required landfills to set up methane gas collection systems and monitor emissions. In May, the E.P.A. suspended enforcement of the new standards for 90 days, pending a review. Environmental groups challenged the action in court, but the delay period has since passed, throwing the status of the case into question.
44. 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 regulated 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.
45. Delayed a rule aiming to improve safety at facilities that use hazardous chemicals
Chemical, agricultural and power industry groups said that the rule, a response to a 2013 explosion at a fertilizer plant that killed 15 people, did not increase safety. Mr. Pruitt delayed the standards until 2019, pending a review. Eleven states are now suing over the delay.
46. Continuing review of proposed groundwater protections for certain uranium mines
Republicans in Congress came out against the 2015 rule. They said the E.P.A. had not conducted an adequate cost-benefit analysis of the rule, which regulated byproduct materials from a type of uranium mining. 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.
47. 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.
48. 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.
At least five 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. Reinstated rule limiting methane emissions on public lands
The oil and gas industry opposed the rule, which required companies to control methane emissions on federal or tribal land. The House voted this year to revoke the rule, but the Senate rejected the measure, 51 to 49. The Bureau of Land Management later suspended enforcement of parts of the rule. In early October, a federal court ruled that the B.L.M. had acted unlwafully in delaying the rule, and ordered its immediate enforcement.
2. Reinstated a requirement for reporting emissions on federal highways
Transportation and infrastructure industry groups opposed a measure that required state and local officials to track greenhouse gas emissions from vehichles on federally funded highways. The Trump administration twice postponed the rule's effective date, putting it off indefinitely on May 19. The rule was reinstated after environmental groups and eight states challenged the delay in court.
3. 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.
4. Delayed publishing efficiency standards for household appliances
After being sued by a number of states and environmental groups for failing to publish efficiency standards for appliances including heaters, air conditioners and refrigerators, the Trump administration released its rules on May 26.
5. 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.
Sources: Harvard Law School’s Environmental Regulation Rollback Tracker; Columbia Law School’s Climate Deregulation Tracker; Federal Register; Environmental Protection Agency; White House
Note: This list does not include new rules proposed by the Trump administration that do not roll back previous policies, nor does it include court actions that have affected environmental policies independent of executive or legislative action.
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