Environmental Rules Rolled Back by Trump
The New York Times has documented 83 environmental rules rolled back or being rolled back by the Trump administration. It has also noted 10 that have been reinstated by the courts. We report their short accounting, and then highlight those concerning energy and greenhouse gas pollution. We comment on the long lasting nature of several of the rollbacks. The article has been updated June 7, 2019 on the web, and is by Popovich, Albeck-Ripka, and Pierre-Louis. The list is based on research from Harvard Law School and Columbia Law School.
There are 83 total rollbacks, of which 49 are completed, and 34 in progress. Trump is trying to complete actions by the end of this year, conveniently out of the election year in 2020, or, from his point of view, accomplishments to tout in the election year. The use of the word “overturned” by the times is that the initial regulation was overturned, or completed, as in the first sentence above. It does not mean that the rollback itself was overturned. In addition, their article lists ten rules that were reinstated after lawsuits. Five of those were relevant to energy efficiency and greenhouse gases.
In Air Pollution and Emissions, there are 22, with 10 overturned, and 12 in process. All but one allowing more mercury pollution would increase greenhouse gas emissions.
In Drilling and Extraction, there are 18, with 9 overturned and 9 in process. Most of these concern increasing areas for oil and gas production, but only one would directly lead to more greenhouse gas emissions. However, they open a vast amount of national land and sea to oil, gas, and coal drilling, with removed environmental restrictions.
In Infrastructure and Planning, there are 13, of which 12 were overturned and 1 is in process. One of these directly concerned greenhouse gas emissions.
Concerning Animals, there are 10, with 8 overturned and 2 in process.
In Toxic Substances and Safety, there are 5, of which 3 are overturned and 2 in process.
In Water Pollution, there are 7, of which 4 regulations were overturned and 3 are in process.
In Other, there are 8, with 3 overturned and 5 in process.
Adding these up, gives 83 total, with 49 overturned, and 34 in process.
While another Democratic President will occur someday with our seesaw government, we see a lot of long term damage that cannot be corrected. Pollution of water resources in fossil fuel extraction will still be there. Non-burning of methane can give enhanced warming effects for a half life of 7 years by a factor of 80 over CO2 produced by flaring. A lot of methane emission can be simply stopped by closing leaks. Excess CO2 given off by inefficient coal plants can be created for the 70 years lifetime of a newly built plant.
Cars produced without increased CAFE standards will be on the road for 15 years in the US, and then used in poorer countries. Air pollution produced by unfiltered power plant emissions and autos goes into peoples lungs and lasts a lifetime. This also includes SO2 and mercury pollution. Excess CO2 in inefficient power plants, or just CO2 produced in fossil fuel plants instead of clean energy sources will last a hundred years producing global warming. The part of CO2 that goes into the ocean will continue to acidify the ocean.
Wells drilled into new leases can last a long time until the leases expire. Offshore oil drilling is now allowed, almost everywhere, except in Republican Florida, the most important swing state. Hydrofluorocarbons in air conditioning are still allowed.
The continuing removal of science from the administrative departments actually creates legal grounds for challenging any weak or removed regulations since all such rules have to be based on the best science. Other rules are being challenged because they did not allow for public comments, or that they are illegal.