While Joe Biden’s inauguration as the forty-sixth President of the United States was just a few days ago, he and his advisors began their work months ago. His team has put together a list of more than 100 environmental rules and policies enacted by the Trump administration, all under the umbrella of environmental conversation and climate change, that they wish to review. Most of these, in turn, are Obama-era or earlier rules that Trump’s administration rolled back in a massive wave of pro-industry deregulation.
Trump administration environmental rules and policies in the list for review include:
- A major reduction of goals for improvements in fuel efficiency standards. An Obama-era ruling called for a 5 percent annual increase in fuel economy. The Trump-administration reduced that to 1.5 percent, a trade favoring the auto industry at the cost of everyone who breathes.
- A decision to allow roads and logging in the Tongass National Forest in Alaska, the country’s largest national forest.
- Changes to how species qualify for protections under the Endangered Species Act, making it much more difficult for species to be added to the list in time to protect them from human activity, especially deforestation.
- A relaxation of energy efficiency limits for construction of new home appliances.
- The overturning of light-bulb rules meant to keep hazardous waste out of landfills.
- Several legal memorandums about mineral rights in sensitive areas.
Some of these environmental rules and policies will be as easy to reverse as writing a legal memorandum to replace another one. Others will be addressed via executive orders. For some, which have been written into formal regulations for various government agencies like the EPA, will take more work to repair.
But at least for the next few months, the Biden Administration has a powerful ally in the Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, and if they are quick enough, they can use the Congressional Review Act to overturn recently made agency rules—which is exactly what the Trump administration and the Republican majorities did to the Obama-era policies.
Many of these rollbacks are already being challenged in court, which lends weight to the Biden administration’s plans.
Photo: A woman holds a placard during a protest against Trump’s environmental policy at a conference attended by Trump climate advisor Myron Ebell in Brussels, Belgium, in February 2017. Credit: Alexandros Michailidis / Shutterstock.com