Trump Administration Ends Epa Clean Air Policy Opposed By Fossil Fuel Companies
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration announced Thursday it is doing away with a decades-old air emissions policy opposed by fossil fuel companies, a move that environmental groups say will result in more pollution. The Environmental Protection Agency said it was withdrawing the “once-in always-in” policy under the Clean Air Act, which dictated how major sources of hazardous air pollutants are regulated.
Under the EPA’s new interpretation, such “major sources” as coal-fired power plants can be reclassified as “area sources” when their emissions fall below mandated limits, subjecting them to differing standards.
Though formal notice of the reversal has not yet been filed, EPA said the policy it has followed since 1995 relied on an incorrect interpretation of the landmark anti-pollution law.
“This guidance is based on a plain language reading of the statute that is in line with EPA’s guidance for other provisions of the Clean Air Act,” said Bill Wehrum, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “It will reduce regulatory burden for industries and the states, while continuing to ensure stringent and effective controls on hazardous air pollutants.”
Republicans quickly cheered the move by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, especially those from states that produce oil, gas and coal.
Trump Greenlights Keystone Xl Pipeline
President Donald Trump issued a new permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline, which he had previously approved two years ago, after the Obama administration had delayed it. The pipeline would carry crude oil from the tar sands of western Canada to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast. Trump’s previous approval had been blocked by a federal judge in Montana in November, who had said the government had not done enough to complete environmental reviews of the controversial project.
In response to the new order, a White House spokesperson told the Associated Press, Specifically, this permit reinforces, as should have been clear all along, that the presidential permit is indeed an exercise of presidential authority that is not subject to judicial review under the Administrative Procedure Act.
Stephan Volker, a lawyer representing environmentalists opposed to the pipeline, told the AP he would be suing to block construction. President Trump has launched a direct assault on our system of governance, Volker said.
Trump Revokes Flood Standards Accounting For Sea
President Trump has signed an executive order revoking federal flood-risk standards that incorporated rising sea levels predicted by climate science.
Trumps new executive order claims to improve federal infrastructure decisions by quickening and streamlining the environmental review process. A single sentence takes the additional step of revoking Executive Order 13690, signed by President Barack Obama on January 30, 2015.
That executive order required that federally funded projects hew to a Federal Flood Risk Management Standard, to reduce the risk of future flood damage. Specifically, the order required that floodplains had to be based on the best-available, actionable hydrologic and hydraulic data and methods that integrate current and future changes in flooding based on climate science.
From 1993 to 2016, global average sea level has increased by about 3.25 inches and is projected to rise one to four feet by the end of the century. Higher sea-level rise cannot be ruled out, due to incomplete data on Antarctic ice-shelf stability. Since the 1960s, tidal flooding has increased at least fivefold in several U.S. cities.
U.S. cities are predicted to see more floods in the coming years. A recent Union of Concerned Scientists report found that chronic floodinga flood roughly every two weekswill come to affect more than 170 U.S. coastal communities in less than 20 years and some 670 communities by 2100.
Read Also: Melania Trump Prostitution
Supreme Court Lets Children’s Climate Change Lawsuit Move To Trial
, a lawsuit filed by 21 children against the federal government over climate change, is headed to trial later this year, after the Supreme Court rejected the Trump Administrations efforts to derail the case.
In a four-sentence order issued July 30, Justice Anthony Kennedy rejected the governments request that the case be stayed as premature. Kennedy noted that the breadth of the claim is striking But he cautioned that the complicated case presents substantial grounds for difference of opinion and warned the trial court to take these concerns into account in assessing the burdens of discovery and trial
The trial is scheduled to begin October 29 in Eugene, Oregon.
– Laura Parker
The childrens suit, filed in federal court in 2015 by the non-profit Our Childrens Trust, alleges that the government has failed to protect Earth from the effects of climate change, putting the lives of future generations at risk and violating their basic constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property.
The Obama Administration sought unsuccessfully to have the case dismissed, arguing remedies for climate change are better addressed by Congress than in court. The Trump Administration was named as a defendant in the case in January 2017. In March, Trump Administration lawyers filed the first of several attempts to have the case dismissed or delayed. None succeeded, prompting the appeal to the high court.
Interior Department Scrubs Climate Change Website
An Interior Department official updates the departments climate change website, deleting much of its content in the process, Motherboard reports. The page now carries a sole mention of climate changeand does not explain what the phenomenon is, how it affects the U.S., and what the department is doing about it.
Also Check: How To Send A Tweet To Donald Trump
I Cant Sleep At Night
While the office works through that backlog, the people who have filed the outstanding complaints can be under extraordinary pressures.
I cant sleep at night, said the EPA staffer who filed the scientific integrity allegation now pending with Grifos office. I am under so much mental strain, I couldnt get out of bed for a while. The scientist, who works on an issue of significance to public health, described witnessing their superior altering their work in a way that they believe could result in widespread health consequences. I lie awake at night thinking about the impact this is going to have on the American public.
I lie awake at night thinking about the impact this is going to have on the American public.
That unnamed scientist isnt suffering alone, according to Kyla Bennett, director of science policy at PEER, an organization that supports environmental whistleblowers. Some of my clients who are involved in the scientific integrity process regularly call me sobbing on the phone because theyre so afraid that their inability to stop the agency from doing what its doing will harm the American public, she said.
Waters Of The Us Rule Revocation
What are the waters of the U.S.? President Trump issued an executive order in 2017 ordering the EPA to formally review what waters fell under the jurisdiction of the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers according to the 1972 Clean Water Act. The proposed change narrowed the definition of what’s considered a federally protected river or wetland.
Read Also: Trump Lies Fact Check
Trump Cuts And The Epa: Making America Less Healthy Again
Joel A. Mintz is a Professor Emeritus of Law and C. William Trout Senior Fellow in Public Interest Law at Nova Southeastern University Law Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
For more than 30 years, Professor Mintz has taught a variety of substantive and clinical environmental law courses, including offerings on the federal law of pollution control, comparative environmental law, environmental aspects of land use planning, and other subjects. He has written extensively on environmental enforcement, the Superfund program, growth management, sustainable development, and certain international environmental agreements.
Professor Mintz co-founded Nova Southeastern Law Center’s in-house Environmental and Land Use Law Clinic, which provides representation to environmental citizens groups and neighborhood organizations in matters that concern implementation of the Florida Growth Management Act and protection of the Everglades and the Florida Keys. He has testified as a legal expert witness in judicial and administrative proceedings, and has given numerous presentations on environmental topics at gatherings of professional and trade associations and on radio and television public affairs broadcasts.
Professor Mintz serves on the board of directors of the Everglades Law Center, Inc., a not-for-profit environmental public interest law firm based in South Florida. He chairs that firm’s Litigation Screening Committee.
Andrew Wheeler Confirmed As Epa Administrator
Since Andrew Wheeler was made acting EPA director in July, he has issued a series of controversial environmental rollbacks. Wheeler is a former coal lobbyist who replaced Scott Pruitt, President Trump’s first pick for EPA administrator who resigned last July.Wheeler’s confirmation comes at a time when Congress is deeply divided among party lines over how to approach climate change and the environment, with some Democrats pushing for a Green New Deal. Wheeler also faces intense pressure from environmentalists after the Washington Post revealed earlier this month that EPA inspections are at a 10-year low. Inspections are a key tool the agency uses to regulate polluters.In the months that Wheeler has been in office, he has undone Obama-era regulations on emissions from coal power plants and automobiles. He has also dismissed a scientific review panel that advised the EPA on air pollution regulation and weakened the criminal enforcement arm of the agency.
Don’t Miss: Federal Rent Checks
Planned Inaction On Particulates
Even more alarming, public-health experts say, was a decision on fine-particle pollution that EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler announced in mid-April. In that case, the EPA went against the advice of its own staff and many academic scientists by leaving the current standards in place in spite of evidence that reducing such pollution could save thousands of lives each year.
In a report issued last September, EPA staff charged with reviewing the literature cited epidemiological and other evidence that would support cutting the maximum allowed average level of fine particulate matter from 12 micrograms per cubic metre of air to between 8 and 10.
The regulatory process that prevented that change was tipped toward the interests of polluters from the outset, with little to no independent scientific oversight, says Christopher Frey, an environmental engineer at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. Frey formerly chaired the EPAs scientific advisory committee on clean air, and was a member of a review panel for the issue that was disbanded in October 2018.
Rather than focusing on protecting public health, EPA is on a misguided mission to protect the profits of regulated industries, Frey says. But its all based on a lot of misconceptions and assumptions rather than facts or evidence.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has been shown to have a higher death toll in communities affected by air pollution.
A Running List Of How President Trump Is Changing Environmental Policy
The Trump administration has promised vast changes to U.S. science and environmental policyand were tracking them here as they happen.
In 2017, the arrival of the Trump Administration brought a flurry of changes to U.S. environmental policyfrom the decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement to cutting federal funding for science and the environment initiatives. To keep track of it all, National Geographic kept a running list, below, of these developments for the first two years of the administration. Now, with campaign season in full swing, were keeping track of environmental actions and promises from both the Trump Administration and Democratic presidential nominee Joseph Biden. Follow along here.
Don’t Miss: How Many Bankruptcies Has Trump Filed
Obama Methane Rule Remains Law Of Land
In a surprise 51-49 defeat, the U.S. Senate rejects a measure that would have repealed Obama-era regulations on methane emissions. That regulation, which the House of Representatives voted to rescind on February 3, limits the venting and flaring of natural gas from oil and gas facilities on U.S. Bureau of Land Management lands. The Obama administration had argued that the practices wasted tens of billions of cubic feet of natural gas annuallyand also posed a climate threat. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, with 25 times the warming capacity of carbon dioxide.
Climate Change Staffers Reassigned
News outlets report that several staff members at EPAs headquarters who specialized in climate change adaptation have been reassigned. However, an EPA official interviewed by The Hill emphasizes that the agencys regional offices have always taken the lead on adaptation and will continue to do so. An EPA official interviewed by National Geographic says that the stafffour employees in allwill continue at the agencys Office of Policy, bringing their knowledge to a broader set of issues.
Also Check: P0tustrump
Ban On Mining Near Yellowstone Extended
U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke extended a ban on mining in a 30,000-acre area of his home state near Yellowstone National Park. Known as Paradise Valley, that part of southwestern Montana is popular with outdoor enthusiasts and tourists and is known for pricey second homes. Attractive to mining companies in recent years, the parcel of federal land is managed by the U.S. Forest Service.
Zinke’s order extends the ban on all mineral extraction on the federal land for another 20 years, the maximum allowed by law. The previous Interior secretary, Sally Jewel, had enacted a two-year ban while more studies of the area were made. Meanwhile, mining companies had been making some exploratory efforts on nearby private land.
I fully support multiple use of public lands, but multiple use is about balance and knowing that not all areas are right for all uses. There are places where it is appropriate to mine and places where it is not. Paradise Valley is one of the areas it’s not, Zinke said when extending the ban, as reported by The Hill.
The ban was supported by Montana’s entire delegation to Congresswho have also floated a bill to make it permanentand had strong bipartisan support in the state. It was opposed by the state’s mining association.
Weiss pointed to recent efforts supported by Zinke to expand mining in Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and the Boundary Waters as examples of the latter.
Supreme Court Refuses To Halt Youths’ Climate Change Suit
The Supreme Court on Friday refused to halt the trial in a case brought by 21 youths who sued the federal government for its role in causing global warming. The youths, many of whom live in regions already suffering the effects of climate change and extreme weather events, want a federal judge in Oregon to order the government to write a plan to address climate change.
The trial was to have begun October 29 in Eugene, but was delayed after the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to intercede and block the case.
In a three-page unsigned order, the justices advised the government to take its arguments back to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and left open the possibility that the government court return to the Supreme Court. Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil M. Gorsuch said they would have granted the administrations request. The other seven justices did not indicate how they decided the governments appeal.
The justices noted the governments description of the case as based on an assortment of unprecedented legal theories, such as a substantive due process right to certain conditions, and an equal protection right to live in the same climate as enjoyed by prior generations.
The order was the second time since July the justices denied the governments effort to stop the case as premature.
Lawyers for the youths announced they would ask that the trial begin next week.
You May Like: How Many Lies Has Trump Been Caught In