Trump Cuts and the EPA: Making America Less Healthy Again
This op-ed originally ran in The South Florida Sun Sentinel.
The most drastic cut in President Donald Trump's recently released budget outline is to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the agency tasked by law with setting and enforcing national standards to limit water, air, and land pollution; conducting scientific research to protect our health and the environment; and assisting state and local governments in reducing pollution.
Even as the tasks assigned to it by Congress have multiplied over the years, the EPA's budget has been cut sharply in the past two decades. From a high point of 18,110 employees in 1999, the agency's work force responsible for enforcing the nation's environmental laws now numbers fewer than 15,000 people. Despite this, the Trump budget proposes the elimination of 3,200 more employees in 2018 and to cut the agency's overall budget by 31 percent.
A look at the details of the president's budget blueprint reveals the truly radical nature of the proposal. It calls for the elimination of all funding for EPA work that relates to climate change — zero dollars to combat the greatest environmental threat facing the planet, and nothing even to gather data that would let us learn more about it.
The proposal flies in the face of the overwhelming consensus among well-qualified scientists that human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases are the primary cause of climate change, and that a failure to promptly decrease emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and other
Yale economist William Baumol has written extensively on the connection between innovation and economic productivity. He has demonstrated that the United States has long been committed to promoting innovation, and through innovation, virtuous circles of economic growth are created. Unfortunately, the current administration appears committed to curtailing, even stopping, that growth. The president's first budget has many targets. One, though, directly contradicts Baumol's research and, more problematically, directly contradicts the U.S. Constitution. From the Founding, it has been a fundamental
As EPA Embarks on Dangerous Experiment in Federalism, How Will States Respond?
In the early 1970s, Congress passed the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act on nearly unanimous votes. The overwhelming support for these new laws reflected not only the horrific condition of America’s air, water, and landscape at the time, but also an appreciation of the collective action problem states faced, necessitating federal action. The major environmental laws that passed in the following years were predicated on the need to set a federal floor for environmental standards in order to
A Dark Day for the Bay
Last year around this time, I happily deleted this headline, "A Dark Day for the Bay," which I was preparing to use for a blog post in the event that the U.S. Supreme Court decided to hear the appeal of the American Farm Bureau Federation and other plaintiffs in their challenge to the Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort known as the Bay TMDL. Ultimately, the Court denied that appeal, leaving in place the decision of a federal appeals court that upheld
President's Reckless Budget Proposal Would Gut Agencies, Endanger Our Health and Environment
As part of a coalition of public interest organizations working toward a responsible federal budget that protects people and the planet, I released the following statement on President Trump's reckless budget proposal that guts the EPA, eliminates federal funding for the Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort, and more. "The president's 'skinny budget' is a particularly apt description for a proposal that would leave crucial protector agencies too emaciated to safeguard our health, safety and environment. Whether it's pipeline inspectors to protect
The Murr Case: Of Lot Mergers and the Future of Land Use Regulation
On Monday, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in a seemingly minor zoning case, Murr v. State of Wisconsin. In reality, the case involves a fundamental challenge to public authority to protect our communities and private property. In particular, if the Court were to rule in favor of petitioners, it would make it vastly more difficult for communities to compel large-scale developers to comply with zoning and other land use laws. Here’s the back story. In 1972, the Secretary
Attacking Regulation Using Slogans, Not Analysis
The Trump administration’s fundamental hostility to government is by now plainly apparent. The President issued an executive order requiring agencies to get rid of two regulations for each new one that is adopted. He appointed administrators who have been extraordinarily hostile to the missions of the departments and agencies that they now head, such as Scott Pruitt at EPA and Betsy DeVos at the Department of Education. And he has proposed deep budget cuts for regulatory agencies. Instead of the
The Hill op-ed: Ruling by Decree
This op-ed originally ran in The Hill. The Feb. 28 executive order overturning a Clean Water Act rule clarifying EPA's jurisdiction over wetlands furnishes but the latest example of President Trump's propensity to rule by almost daily fiat. Trump has ruled by decree ever since he assumed office. He has not proposed a single bill to our elected representatives, not even a bill to help blue-collar workers and rebuild America through infrastructure projects, one of his main campaign promises. Nor
Myths, Realities, and the Clean Water Rule Controversy
by Dave Owen | March 06, 2017
Originally published on Environmental Law Prof Blog by CPR Member Scholar Dave Owen. Last Tuesday, President Trump signed an executive order directing EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to begin work on a new rule defining the scope of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. The rule, if and when it is finalized, would replace the "Clean Water Rule" released by EPA and the Corps during the summer of 2015. Much of the political rhetoric surrounding the Clean Water Rule has suggested
Catching Up on CPR's Recent Op-Edery
Unless you regularly read newspapers from markets ranging from Baltimore to Houston to the San Francisco Bay area, chances are that you missed some of the op-eds that CPR’s scholars and staff published in the nation’s newspapers in February. We post links on our website, of course; you can find them on the various issue pages, as well as on our op-eds page. But we thought CPRBlog readers might appreciate a quick rundown from last month, so here goes: In
Recent Trump Anti-Reg Order Could Breathe New Life into Dangerous Old Law
The first rule of reading anti-regulatory bills, executive orders, and other policy prescriptions is: Sweat the hyper-technical, anodyne-sounding stuff. And President Donald Trump's February 24 executive order on "Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda" demonstrates why this rule exists. One of the order's provisions – which no doubt caused glaze to form over many an eye – read: "[E]ach Regulatory Reform Task Force shall attempt to identify regulations that . . . are inconsistent with the requirements of section 515 of
Regulatory Paralysis by Preemption: GMO Food Labeling and Potentially More
Originally published on Environmental Law Prof Blog by CPR Member Scholar Lesley McAllister. Did you know that as of July 2016, we have a new federal law mandating that genetically engineered food be labeled? It is true – see 7 U.S.C. § 1639(b)(2)(D) (Jul. 29, 2016). So when, you might ask, will you be able to know which of all those foods we buy at the grocery store are produced with GMOs? It could be a very long wait. For one thing,
No, They Don't, Mr. Pruitt
In his first speech upon assuming his duties as EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt informed the agency's employees that "regulators exist to give certainty to those that they regulate." No, Mr. Pruitt, they do not. Regulators and the regulations they are responsible for adopting and enforcing exist to protect the public interest. In particular, they exist to correct market failures, such as the refusal of polluting industries to internalize the costs of the harm they do to public health and the
Baltimore Sun op-ed: Bay Cleanup Must Factor in Climate Change
This op-ed originally ran in the Baltimore Sun. Last summer, when floodwaters nearly wiped out Old Ellicott City, many people looked at the damage as bad luck caused by a 500-year storm. The truth is that such storms are no longer rare events. The Northeast United States has experienced a staggering 70 percent increase in intense rainstorms thanks to climate change. Unfortunately, efforts in the Chesapeake Bay region to adapt policies to address these threats are lagging far behind, and
Congress Wants Land Agency to Ignore the Facts and Future
Imagine you come across a colleague sitting at his desk amid piles of yellowed papers. When you ask what he is working on, he says it's his annual family budget. "What's with all the old papers?" you might ask. "Oh," he replies, "I always work my new budget off my receipts and bills from 1983, the year we married. Some of them are getting pretty hard to read." "Don't you keep updated records?" you might ask. "And haven't your family
Environmental Federalism and Scott Pruitt -- We've Been Here Before
The ascension of Scott Pruitt as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ushers in a new chapter in the long story of cooperative federalism in the administration of U.S. environmental laws. Pruitt's words and actions as the Attorney General of Oklahoma suggest that, as much as any other issue, idea, or policy, federalism will be a recurring theme. But are the cries about federalism really about finding the proper balance of state and federal roles in implementation of our
Is Texas Cleaning Up Its Act?
At a national meeting of state utility regulators, the head of the group recently said that the Clean Power Plan was basically dead, but this might not matter because "arguably, you're seeing market-based decarbonization" due to technological changes. Case in point: Texas. Market trends are pushing Republican stronghold Texas toward a cleaner grid. ERCOT, which operates nearly all of the state's grid, recently projected that in the next fifteen years, Texas will add almost 20 gigawatts of solar, equivalent to 15-20
Why the REINS Act Is Unconstitutional
by Bill Funk | February 14, 2017
The so-called Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny Act (REINS Act) has already passed the House this year, as it did in previous sessions. The current version, which amends the Congressional Review Act (CRA), differs somewhat from previous versions but still suffers from a fatal flaw – it is unconstitutional. The current REINS Act has three parts. One part essentially reflects the recent Executive Order on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs, except that the REINS Act only