by Countable | 10.17.17
Both President Donald Trump and Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt have questioned the validity of climate change. Therefore, there’s been a few…changes to the EPA since Pruitt took over. Actually, there’s been more than a few. Which is why Countable decided to track the major policy initiatives, actions, and rollbacks the EPA is making.
Think of it like our Executive Action tracker for the EPA.
And, as always, make sure to tell Pruitt your thoughts:
EPA actions are listed in order of most recent to oldest.
Pruitt issues a directive to end the practice known as “sue and settle.” In the past, the EPA would resolve litigation over the agency’s failure to meet a regulatory deadline by agreeing to timelines in which they’d act. For example, an environmental group would sue the EPA over its failure to regulate smog in the Midwest by some statutory deadline; in response, the EPA would settle by agreeing on a clean air regulation. “It’s very important that we do not get engaged in regulation through litigation,” Pruitt said. “This is something that is a long time coming with respect to this agency.”
Scott Pruitt, the head of the EPA, issues a proposal to roll back the Clean Power Plan. The Obama-era initiative, which was stayed by the Supreme Court, would have required the energy sector – especially coal – to reduce carbon emissions. Pruitt says the rule hurts coal-fired plants and with the rollback, "the war on coal is over." This is in line with Pruitt’s statements that he “would not agree that” carbon dioxide is "a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.”
Pruitt calls for an end to tax credits for wind and solar, telling the audience of coal manufacturers, "I would do away with these incentives that we give to wind and solar. I’d let them stand on their own and compete against coal and natural gas and other sources, and let utilities make real-time market decisions on those types of things as opposed to being propped up by tax incentives and other types of credits that occur, both in the federal level and state level." (Video)
The EPA releases its four-year strategic plan. The draft outlines the agency’s priorities, which include the "rebalance" of the EPA’s role in regulation by shifting more responsibility to states, and an enforcement of environmental laws “as Congress intended.” The phrase “climate change” does not appear in the 38-page document.
Pruitt has rejected the scientific consensus on climate change, and also questions the findings that human activity could be a factor. "I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there's tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact," Pruitt said.
The EPA announces its "Smart Sectors Program," which will allow regulated industries to have a greater say in how they’re regulated. In a listing with the Federal Register published in September, the EPA stated the program’s purpose is to “reduce unnecessary regulatory burden.”
For decades, the EPA funded the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, bankrolling DOJ lawyers who go after polluters responsible for creating hazardous waste sites. Pruitt signals, however, that he wants to end those payments.
In a letter, Pruitt says that it is "appropriate and in the public interest" to revisit parts of an Obama-era effort to regulate coal ash. The decision comes after industry officials petitioned the EPA, writing in May that the regulation “affects both the utility and coal industries and also affects the large and small businesses that support and rely upon those industries.” (Coal ash, as explained by the Washington Post, is a “toxic mix of mercury, cadmium, arsenic and other heavy metals [that] can pollute waterways, poison wildlife, and cause respiratory illness among those living near the massive storage pits plant operators use to contain it.”)
In May (see below), the EPA announced a 90-day stay on enforcing landfill methane rules. As the EPA explains, landfill gas (LFG) "is composed of roughly 50 percent methane [and] 50 percent carbon dioxide (CO2). Methane is a potent greenhouse gas 28 to 36 times more effective than CO2 at trapping heat in the atmosphere over a 100-year period." On the day the three-month stay expires, an agency spokesperson tells industry blog Waste Dive, "We have no updates at this time.”
Pruitt announces that he’s going to revisit an October 2016 decision that would have applied heavy-duty truck greenhouse gas emissions standards to gliders and trailers. In a statement, the EPA says the decision came "following concerns raised by stakeholders in the trailer and glider industry."
A federal court orders the EPA to enforce an Obama administration climate regulation known as "the methane rule." The rule places pollution limits on the oil and gas industry, and requires that companies locate and fix methane leaks. Pruitt had tried to stop its enforcement on numerous occasions: In April, he said that the agency would "reconsider" the methane rule; in June, he issued a notice advising that the EPA would block the rule's enforcement for two years, giving energy companies time to review the rule and the public time to comment.
The army joins the EPA in a proposal to scuttle the clean water rule. The Obama-era legislation expanded the fed’s protections of drinking water to around a third of Americans. Pruitt says the rollback is necessary to provide "regulatory certainty to our nation’s farmers and businesses."
The EPA proposes delaying the "methane rule" for two years. Detractors criticized the EPA, saying children would be at heightened risk from cancer-causing pollutants in the air. The EPA acknowledges this reality in its announcement, saying it “believes that the environmental health or safety risk addressed by this action may have a disproportionate effect on children.” However, the agency counters that “any impacts on children’s health caused by the delay in the rule will be limited because the length of the proposed stay is limited.”
President Trump announces that his administration will withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement, and begin renegotiating the Paris accord or a new agreement on more favorable terms. In April, Pruitt had recommended the withdrawal, saying in an interview, "It’s something we need to exit in my opinion. “It’s a bad deal for America. It was an America second, third, or fourth kind of approach. China and India had no obligations under the agreement until 2030. We front-loaded all of our costs."
Citing the input of waste management industry professionals, the EPA announces a 90-day administrative stay on landfill methane rules. Methane is released from decomposing garbage, and the Obama administration had issued guidelines which required "landfills to install and operate…gas collection systems, monitor emissions, as well as other provisions." Pruitt says the three-month stay “will give stakeholders the opportunity to review these requirements” and “assess economic impacts.”
When Pruitt was attorney general for Oklahoma, he sued the Obama-era EPA to stop the enforcement of a rule known as MATS: Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for Power Plants. The EPA was supposed to defend the rule against the state AGs and a coalition of utility and mining companies. But on April 27, the Pruitt-run agency successfully convinces an appeals court to delay arguments, writing, "in light of the recent change in Administration, EPA requests continuance of the oral argument to give the appropriate officials adequate time to fully review."
The EPA hits pause on the Clean Water Act (ELG Rule), a regulation aimed at limiting the amount of toxic metals (arsenic, lead, mercury) power plants can dump into public waterways. "This action is another example of EPA implementing President Trump’s vision of being good stewards of our natural resources, while not developing regulations that hurt our economy and kill jobs," Pruitt said in a statement.
In 2015, the Obama administration had placed stricter standards on ozone pollution. On April 11, 2017, a court grants an EPA request to delay the "smog rule standards" implementation.
Pruitt rejects the scientific conclusion of the EPA’s own chemical safety experts to ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos. The agency’s scientists had said the ban was warranted because of its potential harm to children and farm workers. But Pruitt says in a statement that "by reversing the previous administration’s steps to ban one of the most widely used pesticides in the world, we are returning to using sound science in decision-making—rather than predetermined results."
President Trump issues an executive order directing the EPA to revise, rescind, or suspend all energy regulations put in place during the Obama administration. This includes rewriting the Clean Power Plan, ending the ban on coal mining on public land, and removing climate change as a consideration when approving federal projects. "C’mon, fellas. You know what this is? You know what this says?" Trump asked the miners surrounding him during the EO signing. “You’re going back to work!”
Trump tells a crowd in Detroit that he’s ordering the EPA to review the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) standards. These fuel efficiency standards were meant to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, but Pruitt said they’re "costly for automakers and the American people."
A day after red-state governors and attorneys general write to Pruitt and request the EPA stop collecting methane emissions data from 15,000 oil and gas operations, Pruitt obliges. He says the decision was made "after hearing from industry."
President Trump pens an executive order instructing the EPA to rewrite the "Waters of the United States" Rule. WOTUS expanded the Clean Water Act to protect smaller bodies of water. Surrounded by farmers, home developers, and county commissioners, Trump signed the EO, saying, "Regulations and permits started treating our wonderful small farmers and small businesses as if they were a major industrial polluter. They treated them horribly."
(Photo Credit: Creative Commons)
Written by Countable
I am sick about this. Denial of scientific evidence showing hard evidence of manmade contributions to climate change is costing us billions in disaster relief already. This head in the sand approach is basically a payoff to the fossil fuel producers like the Koch Brothers and Exxon Mobil who want to protect their enormous profits, regardless of the long term consequences for the planet. We will all pay for this willful ignorance. It is long past time to listen to the scientific consensus on this issue and make the necessary adjustments, supporting innovation and clean renewable energy. Stop basing public health policies on the interests of campaign donors!
Please fight to keep existing policies in place to fight climate change.
Donald Trump and Scott Pruitt questioning the validity of climate change is like a five-year-old questioning gravity. Let's start with enforcing EPA regulations, it's obvious that those in Washington who deny climate change and scientific proof must think they can afford to buy fresh air, clean water. Someone save us from the idiots and ignorant.
Excellent idea from Countable! With this current Administration in power, we need to closely monitor EVERY change in Environmental Policy and Shout Loudly when things take a turn for the worse...
To believe that man can kill or hurt the planet is arrogant!
Questioning climate change is so unintelligent. It’s a FACT. Climate change has been proven over and over. To ignore the science behind something for your own opinion is atrocious! Great idea on Countable’s part to keep us informed. We need to speak up for our planet!
There is nothing that the average American can do to effect or influence this Agency, Administration or Congress. They are motivated by extreme racism fascist ideals that are supported by only a third of the voting public. But that public has the same center as this Administration and is solidly behind whatever they do. If we are going to have any effect or influence we must be just as determined and solidly behind leaders who oppose this extremist. We can move our Government more toward the center but we ALL must vote and vote against extremists in 2018 and again in 2020 and we must be vigilant to never allow such a fascist group of people to take charge of our country again. Vote for people who will be beneficial to our country as a whole, to all our citizens.
Science is backed by evidence. Claims of climate change not happening is backed by trump and his partners in crime who pay for subsidies in coal industries. It’s Time we stop providing subsidies to coal industries. They’ve been trying to make “clean coal” for years. That’s IMPOSSIBLE.
Please keep a close eye on The President and his Department of EPA, we need all the help we can get.
Just rename it “The Encourage Big Business to Plunder Environment To Enrich a Few While Hurting America and The World” Agency already! 1984
Please support the Clean Power Plan and also, please ensure that the EPA keeps the climate data available to the public. This is imperative for our children's future. Do not let the safety of our planet be endangered on your watch. Thank you.
Hey democrats, go clean up your own cities before you tell the rest of the country how to do their business.
FDR said it best “A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.” We need to stand together and let government and big business know that we will not tolerate any action taken that either directly or indirectly ruins the environmental landscape of our country and planet
Mr Pruitt should be Fired!
Ok so WHAT IF global warming is wrong? What have we lost by having these regulations? NOTHING! In fact, we’ve gained better means of energy, a safer, healthier country, we’ve still protected the atmosphere, etc. And if it is right we’ve made even more of a difference! Don’t take away the regulations just because of skeptics! Better safe than sorry!
You confirmed this morally bankrupt shill to be the head of an agency he doesn’t believe in and sit idly by while he systematically deregulates the very industries that are destroying our planet. At what point do you question the leaders of your party and begin to take back your integrity; to actually do your job and protect your constituents and the people of this nation regardless of party affiliation.
Every single day we have another action taken by this Administration that merely shows us who bought and paid for them. They are the most corrupt and morally bankrupt group that I have seen in my 6+ decades. Their wealthy campaign contributors surely are getting their moneys worth...at the expense of hardworking Citizens
Take Climate Change out of the equation. There is still pollution being spewed into our waters, air and soil, which negatively effects every person and every living thing. We need to protect the environment from all man-made impacts. The Republican stance on this issue could be analogous to: “We cannot connect specific instances of child abuse that has negatively effected your child’s behavior, therefore we believe that psychological trauma is not caused by your abuse of children. Please continue abusing your children. “
The state of the EPA is truly unsettling. Climate change is a thing. Even I, a young voter recognize this. It breaks my heart that our government ignores this fact and I feel that my generation and I are being betrayed by our lawmakers.
Stop using your religious beliefs as a reason to not look at the science. Facts are facts are facts!!! Quit taking it out on our environment, punish those who are harming our children’s and grandchildren’s future. Hit them where it hurts the most...their bottom line!!!!