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March 29, 2019 by Daniel Farber

Trump on the Environment: A Study in Falsehood

Originally published on Legal Planet.

The Washington Post has a list of false statements by Trump, which turns out to be searchable by topic. They've found, "In the first eight months of his presidency, President Trump made 1,137 false or misleading claims, an average of five a day." As of March 17, he was up to 9,179 false statements. There were 200 false statements about the environment – that's about one every four days, which compares favorably to the number of misrepresentations on some other topics. They're quite repetitive, but I've picked out some of the most frequent ones. By the way, if you're interested, the Post also explains why each of these statements is wrong. I shudder to think what people who follow him on Twitter are picking up in the way of misconceptions.

Air and Water

  • "Some of the best farmland in the world, by the way, can't be used because they don't have water. But they actually have a lot of water." About endangered species and water quality regulations that prevent draining the Sacramento and American Rivers dry.
  • "We, right now, have the cleanest air and the cleanest water, which is what I want …

March 28, 2019 by Sandra Zellmer
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This post was originally published on SCOTUSblog. It is republished here under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 US).

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously this week in favor of Alaskan John Sturgeon, who waged a 12-year battle against the National Park Service over its ban on hovercraft in park preserves. As a result of the decision, Sturgeon can once again "rev up his hovercraft in search of moose" on the Nation River in the Yukon Charley Preserve. This is the second time this fight has come before the Supreme Court. On one hand, it involves important legal issues affecting public lands, federalism, and water rights. But on the other, it is a narrow case over the special circumstances of federal lands in Alaska.

As a quick recap, Sturgeon was navigating the Nation River on his hovercraft in 2007 when Park Service officials stopped him and …

March 27, 2019 by Brian Gumm
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Michigan. Minnesota. New Jersey. North Carolina. West Virginia. These are just some of the hotspots of water contamination caused by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, better known as PFAS. Linked to a number of cancers and other illnesses, PFAS chemicals have been used in everything from nonstick cookware to stain-resistant clothing and carpets. Until recently, the substances have gone largely unregulated, exposing millions of Americans to toxic contamination.

Earlier this month, CPR Member Scholar and UC-Riverside Professor Carl Cranor spoke with UCR News about PFAS and the dangers the chemicals pose to human health and the environment.

PFAS' carbon-fluorine bonds are some of the strongest in organic chemistry. They're so stable, in fact, that PFAS have been widely referred to as "forever chemicals" because of their indestructability, said Carl Cranor, a distinguished professor of philosophy at the University of California, Riverside.

"These chemicals are going to be part …

March 25, 2019 by James Goodwin
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During her confirmation hearing, Neomi Rao – then the administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) and President Trump's pick to fill Justice Kavanaugh's vacant seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit – attracted a lot of controversy. Much of it surrounded the outrageous student newspaper commentaries she wrote as an undergrad, in which she casually passed judgment on date rape victims and the scourge of creeping multiculturalism. Now that Rao has been sworn in to a lifetime appointment of passing judgment with the full effect of the law, it's worth looking at another dispute that arose during the hearing – namely, how she should approach her legal and ethical responsibility to recuse herself from cases involving rules she worked on as OIRA administrator.

In an exchange with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Cal.) during the hearing, Rao pointedly refused to …

March 21, 2019 by Daniel Farber
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Originally published on Legal Planet.

What is EPA’s mission? To what extent is minimizing regulatory costs part of the core mission, as the Trump Administration seems to believe? Does the Trump-Pruitt/Wheeler view comport with original intent? History makes it clear that the answer is “no.”

The title of the agency itself suggests that the core mission is protecting the environment, just as the core mission of the Defense Department is presumably national defense (though cost isn’t irrelevant in either setting). It’s worthwhile, however, to take a closer look at the marching orders given to the agency when it was formed. As it turns out, we do have clear evidence of what Congress and the President had in mind.

EPA wasn’t established by a statute. It was established through a special process that no longer exists for government reorganization, which allowed the President …

March 19, 2019 by James Goodwin
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Today, the Center for Progressive Reform and 46 other environmental, labor, and public health organizations sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler calling on him to withdraw the agency's pending "benefits-busting" rule. Wheeler was recently confirmed as the official agency head, and, as the letter notes, he can begin his tenure on the right track by abandoning this dangerous rulemaking. The proposal is a vestige of the disastrous Scott Pruitt era that would radically overhaul how the agency performs "cost-benefit analysis" on the environmental and health safeguards it is developing so as to make the results even more biased against public protections.

The broad range of public interest groups signing on to the letter confirms just how far-reaching a threat the benefits-busting rule poses, not just at EPA, but all agencies charged with protecting the public interest. Indeed, the changes it …

March 14, 2019 by Daniel Farber
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Originally published on Legal Planet.

The possibility of declaring a national emergency to address climate change will probably remain under discussion for the next couple of years, particularly if the courts uphold Trump's "wall" emergency. For that reason, I thought it might be helpful to pull together the series of blog posts I've written on the subject. I want to emphasize three key points at the beginning:

  1. Declaring a climate emergency should be off the table if the Supreme Court rules against Trump.  
  2. An emergency declaration is not a magic wand that gives presidents a blank check. A declaration would allow some constructive steps to be taken, but within limits.  
  3. The ultimate goal has to be congressional action, and an emergency declaration should only be considered as part of a larger legislative and administrative agenda.

Even if the Court upholds Trump, using this precedent to fight climate …

March 14, 2019 by David Driesen
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This post is based on a recent article published in the University of Missouri—Kansas City Law Review.

Congressional oversight and the public's impeachment discussion tend to focus on deep dark secrets: Did President Trump conspire with the Russians? Did he cheat on his taxes? Did he commit other crimes before becoming president? The House Committee on Oversight and Reform (or the Judiciary Committee), however, should also focus on a more fundamental and less hidden problem: Trump has systematically sought to undermine the rule of law in the United States. He has done the opposite of what his oath of office requires by taking care that the law be faithlessly executed. I am not just talking about some illegal actions, but rather about a systematic effort to direct government employees to do the opposite of what the Constitution requires. For this reason, there is a need for …

March 13, 2019 by Daniel Farber
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Originally published on Legal Planet.

Usually, you'd expect a regulated industry to applaud an effort to lighten its regulatory burdens. So you would think that the car industry would support Trump's effort to roll back fuel efficiency standards for new vehicles and take away California's authority to set its own vehicle standards. But that effort is being met by silence in some cases and vocal opposition in others. According to E&E News, "senior officials from EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration . . . told automakers to support the rollback or risk angering President Trump by siding with California's more stringent tailpipe emissions rules. But since the call, not one automaker has issued a statement of support." Some, like Ford, remain openly opposed to the rollback, which attempts to freeze federal fuel efficiency standards and oust California from setting its own standards.

One reason for the industry's …

March 12, 2019 by Laurie Ristino
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The Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives has a weighty agenda – from policy reform to oversight of the Trump administration. Given all that the House Democrats have on their plate, urging them to restore policy rationality by making the support of science-based policy central to their strategy might seem like a prosaic ask, but it's critically important.  

Without science as the lodestar for government policymaking, anything goes, which is exactly the problem. As the Union of Concerned Scientists documented in a recent report, the Trump administration has been marginalizing science and isolating federal scientists for the past two years. Trump appointees have systematically undercut the science-based policies and regulations forged to protect human health and the environment. This has opened the door to irrational policymaking aimed at benefiting the industries and special interests to which these appointees are linked.

The bipartisan design of our …

CPR HOMEPAGE
More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
March 29, 2019

Trump on the Environment: A Study in Falsehood

March 28, 2019

Opinion Analysis: The Justices Wish Sturgeon 'Good Hunting' in Sturgeon v. Frost

March 27, 2019

CPR's Cranor Talks PFAS, Drinking Water, and Corporate Accountability

March 25, 2019

Some Recusal Rules of Thumb for Recently Confirmed Judge Rao

March 21, 2019

EPA's Mission: The Original Understanding Wasn't Cutting Regulatory Costs

March 19, 2019

Public Interest Community Calls on EPA Administrator to Halt Dangerous 'Benefits-Busting Rule'

March 14, 2019

Oversight, Executive Orders, and the Rule of Law