This op-ed originally ran in The Hill.
Federal laws and regulations play a crucial role determining the quality of our air, water, and natural resources. Well-researched and scientifically supported rules can bring enormous benefits to the American people, but regulatory rollbacks for little more than deregulation's sake can cause great harm.
One example of the potential damage that a poorly crafted regulation may cause is the new proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to roll back a requirement that automobile manufacturers improve vehicle fuel efficiency in the first half of the 2020s. With the rise of wind and solar energy, and the ongoing shift from coal-fired to natural-gas-fired power plants, motor vehicles are now the leading U.S. source of the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change — along with other harmful air pollutants. If left in place, the current requirements would significantly reduce those harmful emissions, protecting public health while making disastrous sea level rise less likely. If reversed, the opposite would occur.
Cross-posted from LegalPlanet.
Trump is proposing to gut CO2 standards for cars, freezing 2020 CAFE fuel-efficiency standards in place for years to come. Without the freeze, the standards would automatically ramp up. He also wants to eliminate California's ability to set its own standards, which many other states have opted to adopt. Here are seven key questions about Trump's proposed rollback and some answers.
A: Not so much. It's not that they love being regulated. But the big downside for the car companies is regulatory uncertainty. Putting out a new car model costs $1-6 billion and takes 2½ to 3 years. Trump's rollback is going to be tied up in court for at least a year, maybe two, even assuming it's ultimately upheld. In the meantime, manufacturers won't be able to plan for post-2020 models. The manufacturers don't need this …
The forced resignation of Scott Pruitt as administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) brought celebration and relief in many quarters. Pruitt was a walking scandal machine who generated an endless stream of headlines about spending abuses, cozy relationships with industry lobbyists, first-class travel at government expense, and aides asked to perform personal tasks, including buying lotions and mattresses and unsuccessfully helping his wife land a Chick-fil-A franchise.
Of more lasting consequence, he loyally adhered to the extreme, anti-environmental policies of his boss, President Trump. So, while Pruitt's departure was good news for anyone who's serious about public corruption, it remains to be seen whether it will have any impact on environmental policy.
Pruitt initiated a massive rollback of EPA regulations. He openly questioned the well-established science of climate change, and he presided over the dismantling of …
Originally published on The Regulatory Review. Reprinted with permission.
In a previous essay, we critiqued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recently proposed transparency rule, arguing that the proposal conflicts with best scientific practices and would further erode the EPA’s ability to do its job. According to supporters, the central goal of the proposed rule is to increase the transparency of regulatory science. Unfortunately, the proposal does not begin to deliver. No matter how many times the word “transparency” is repeated to characterize the proposal, its effects would reverse progress. It also gives appointees like former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and his successors unrestricted and unreviewable authority to reach politically motivated decisions that exclude high quality research.
Of all the problems that plague EPA today, ensuring scientific transparency is not all that difficult. A real transparency proposal, as opposed to the Pruitt EPA’s …
Andrew Wheeler will be on the hot seat today when he heads to Capitol Hill for his first appearance before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee as Acting Administrator of the EPA. Senators initially scheduled the hearing when Scott Pruitt was Administrator and his ethical problems had reached such epic proportions that his party's support was starting to erode.
With Pruitt out and Wheeler in, today's hearing has the potential to be more about environmental policy than conflicts of interest and failures of management – a welcome change. We will be following closely to see if Andrew Wheeler will be as committed to these four retrograde policies as Scott Pruitt was:
The one-two punch of Pruitt's proposals to censor science and warp environmental economics. It is no wonder morale at EPA plummeted. There was a time when a person could make a career at EPA by building …