Posted October 25, 2018 06:12:00 The president-elect will face a critical moment to protect the American people’s health and the environment, as his administration prepares to roll back some of the most sweeping environmental regulations the United States has ever seen, according to experts and congressional staffers.
The White House and the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) have vowed to repeal a series of Obama-era regulations, such as limits on mercury emissions from power plants and on methane emissions from oil and gas operations.
Some of Trump’s key environmental advisers have been vocally opposed to the changes.
“There is going to be a lot of political pressure for him to go in that direction,” said Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank.
Trump will have to make a tough choice about whether to do it.” “
The stakes are high.
Trump will have to make a tough choice about whether to do it.”
Environmentalists have long argued that Trump is the first president to take unilateral actions to protect public health and environment, including by signing executive orders or signing a bill, according the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
The Obama administration has also repeatedly put forward plans to undo environmental regulations, including a rule to protect salmon habitats from oil spills and another that required federal agencies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Trump is expected to sign a major overhaul of the EPA to address the Trump administration’s goals, including expanding the agency’s reach, increasing its funding and reducing regulatory burdens, according EPA spokeswoman Erica Davenport.
But the president-to-be has been a vocal opponent of the Clean Power Plan, which requires states to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants.
Under the Clean Energy Act, states can adopt regulations to protect streams, wetlands, wetlands and other wildlife habitat from coal, oil and other fossil fuel combustion.
The EPA has not been able to get states to take action to meet its goals, said David Titley, who worked on President Obama’s climate action plans and has worked as an attorney for environmental groups.
The agency has already begun a new rule to address coal emissions in the Northeast, a move that may result in additional rules to protect wetlands, he said.
Davenport said the agency is reviewing how to implement the EPA’s Clean Power Plans, which would require states to achieve emission reductions from existing coal-fired power plants by 2030.
But Titley said the EPA would likely not be able to meet the goals unless states adopt their own standards.
“It is hard to imagine the EPA going into this and saying, ‘We’re going to make your goals a bit harder,'” he said, referring to the Clean Air Act.
EPA rules on methane pollution from oil operations were a major factor in President Trump’s victory, and are expected to be repealed.
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, and the EPA has warned that methane could be a major threat to the ozone layer and the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change.
However, Titley cautioned that the Trump White House could reverse some of those rules as part of its plan to undo Obama-administered regulations.
Methane is now a regulated pollutant under the Clean Water Act, Titling it as a pollutant “is a little bit of a gamble,” he said in a recent interview.
“We’re talking about a whole range of things that we know have a direct effect on the climate, and methane is one of them.”
The EPA is also reviewing a rule for methane emissions in oil and natural gas wells, a rule that was designed to address methane emissions at oil and shale drilling sites, he added.
Environmental groups have pushed the Trump transition team to review the rules as a way to protect local air and water quality, and as a tool to help reduce greenhouse gases.
A spokesman for Trump did not respond to a request for comment on the president’s intentions.
Many of Trump, including his son-in-law Jared Kushner, have a long history of industry ties, as well as a history of business dealings, according a recent profile in the Washington Post.
But some experts said that while the Trump campaign’s business ties are notable, there are other connections that could help Trump protect the environment.
If the Trump-appointed EPA were to rollback many of the Obama-created regulations, he could be in a difficult position, said Marc Rosenzweig, executive director of Friends of the Earth Action, a Washington, D.C.-based environmental advocacy group.
“There’s no question that Trump’s appointees are going to have a very difficult time convincing the courts and Congress that the CleanPower Plan is an appropriate use of their agency,” Rosenzwell said.