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Dec. 6, 2018 by Daniel Farber

Two Years and Counting: A Historical Perspective

Cross-posted from Legal Planet.

This is the second of three posts assessing the first two years of the Trump administration. You can read the first post here.

We all seem to be subscribed to the "All Trump News, All the Time" newsfeed. It may be helpful to step back a bit and compare Trump with his last Republican predecessor, George W. Bush.

How do the two stack up? Bush and Trump were very different in character and style, but their regulatory aims were similar. Bush and Trump were both trying to steer the country in the same directions in terms of regulatory policy: increased use of fossil fuels, less environmental regulation. But the Republican Party has been radicalized since Bush's day, and in environmental affairs, the Trump administration reflects that radicalization.

For instance, whereas Bush actually created important ocean national monuments (though it was a bit out of character for him), Trump has actually made major reductions to existing national monuments (which was completely in character for him.). One way of explaining the difference is to say that the Bush administration was skeptical of regulation whereas the Trump administration is fiercely hostile.

Even where the two took similar policy positions …

Dec. 3, 2018 by Daniel Farber
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Cross-posted from Legal Planet.

In September 2017 – that seems so long ago! – Eric Biber and I released a report assessing the state of play in environmental issues 200 days into the Trump administration, based on an earlier series of blog posts. As we end Trump's second year, it's time to bring that assessment up to date. This is the first of three posts examining what Trump has done (and hasn't done) in terms of environment and energy.

For this first post, I'll follow the same outline as the 9/17 report but omit a lot of the detail.

Legislation. Eric and I considered substantive legislative changes very unlikely although potentially very damaging. Almost no substantive changes have made it through Congress. The one exception was the provision in the Senate tax bill for opening up ANWR for drilling, which was able to use reconciliation procedures since it …

Nov. 8, 2018 by Matt Shudtz
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For two years, President Trump has attempted to steer federal policy in ways that undercut core American values. His vision of government – to the extent one can divine a coherent vision – lacks compassion, fairness, a commitment to equal voice and opportunity, and concern for the long-term threats that families and communities cannot address on their own. Instead, the president has embarked on a campaign to remake the core institutions of our democracy in a new, authoritarian mold. And along the way, he has set an expectation for his administration that its agenda and his personal political and financial aspirations carry more weight than the rule of law.

Tuesday's midterms showed that Americans are tired of Congress rubber-stamping the president's actions and letting his mean-spirited rhetoric become normalized. The newly minted Democratic majority in the House of Representatives will be sworn in in early January with a mandate …

Nov. 1, 2018 by Hannah Wiseman
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This post was originally published on ACSblog, the blog of the American Constitution Society. Reprinted with permission.

On October 26, 2018, the comment period ended for a new rule that guts U.S. fuel efficiency standards for vehicles. If the final rule resembles the proposed rule, the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule for Model Years 2021-2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks (SAFE Vehicles Rule) will lock in old fuel efficiency standards, reversing Obama administration regulations mandating increased efficiency. Specifically, the "preferred alternative" expressed by the Trump administration's EPA is to keep 2020 standards for both passenger vehicles and light trucks through 2026, replacing current regulations that required enhanced efficiency during the six-year period. Further, the rule proposes to remove California's existing authorization to regulate carbon emissions from cars, preempting both California's regulation and other states that have adopted standards identical to California's.

This blunt about-face in …

Oct. 25, 2018 by Alice Kaswan
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This op-ed originally ran in the Fresno Bee.

Cities in the San Joaquin Valley continue to land among the American Lung Association's top 10 most polluted communities in the country. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the comment period closed on the Trump administration's plans to ratchet back federal emissions standards and eliminate California's authority to run its crucial car emissions programs. Although the administration has its eyes on greenhouse gas controls, what's at stake is California's ability to transition to low- and zero-emission vehicles, a transition essential to reducing the pollutants that threaten public health in California and elsewhere in the nation.

The federal government has the primary authority to set automobile pollution standards under the Clean Air Act. But Congress — recognizing California's serious air pollution challenges — stipulated that California is entitled to a "waiver" that lets the state set stricter standards, and which gives other states the option …

Oct. 22, 2018 by Katie Tracy
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The Trump administration has few plans to protect workers from emerging workplace health and safety hazards, according to the regulatory agenda released by the White House on October 16. This is nothing new for this administration, which has consistently neglected to take up worker protections, instead focusing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) resources on delaying and rolling back existing safeguards

Among the rules in OSHA's crosshairs, the agency plans to revoke a requirement for employers with 250 or more employees to electronically submit detailed logs of injuries and illnesses that occur at their establishments. The electronic reporting requirement for large firms is one piece of a 2016 rule finalized just before President Obama's term ended. The 2016 rule only sought to require establishments to submit injury and illness records that employers are already required to keep on site. But Trump's OSHA is basing its rollback …

Oct. 17, 2018 by James Goodwin
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The Trump administration's Fall 2018 regulatory agenda dropped late last night, and as with previous iterations of this preview of what's to come on the regulatory front, it is chock full of numbers – at least the kinds of numbers partisan ideologues and regulated industries care about. But what these numbers don't reveal are the kinds of things a decent society cares about. Basic things like how well we are protecting the health and welfare of children, for example.

Already, we have heard President Trump and various White House officials congratulate themselves for their large number of deregulatory actions, the relatively small number of "regulatory" actions, and net cost savings to industry. These numbers are worse than misleading; they're a diversion. They're a bogus benchmark that tells us nothing about the quality of the regulations themselves or how well the Trump administration is doing in terms of fulfilling …

Oct. 10, 2018 by Joseph Tomain
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This post is the second of a pair on the Trump administration's so-called "Affordable Clean Energy" (ACE) rule. You can read the first post here on CPRBlog. 

Industry Trends

In short, energy projections demonstrate a clear trend for clean energy and away from fossil fuels. These trends, directly and negatively, affect traditional electric utilities. About the time that rooftop solar financing was being consolidated by third parties such as SolarCity and Sunrun, utilities began to worry about a "death spiral." In such a scenario, customers would install solar rooftop panels, generate some or all of their electricity, and then either reduce their utility bills or, in some instances, sell their excess electricity back to the utility. To the extent that customers left the grid, the utility would have to recoup their fixed costs from a smaller customer base, thus increasing electricity prices and forcing more customers …

Oct. 8, 2018 by Joseph Tomain
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This post is the second of a pair on the Trump administration's so-called "Affordable Clean Energy" (ACE) rule. You can read the first post here on CPRBlog. 

Industry Trends

In short, energy projections demonstrate a clear trend for clean energy and away from fossil fuels. These trends, directly and negatively, affect traditional electric utilities. About the time that rooftop solar financing was being consolidated by third parties such as SolarCity and Sunrun, utilities began to worry about a "death spiral." In such a scenario, customers would install solar rooftop panels, generate some or all of their electricity, and then either reduce their utility bills or, in some instances, sell their excess electricity back to the utility. To the extent that customers left the grid, the utility would have to recoup their fixed costs from a smaller customer base, thus increasing electricity prices and forcing more customers …

Oct. 5, 2018 by Alejandro Camacho
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This op-ed originally ran in The Hill. It was co-authored with Melissa Kelly, the staff director and attorney at the Center for Land, Environment, and Natural Resources (CLEANR).

The bald eagle, sea otter, timber wolf — these iconic animals and more have been saved by the Endangered Species Act (ESA). But the Trump administration doesn't seem to care about our country's natural heritage. It's using questionable arguments about the popular law in an effort to gut protections and convert our public lands into private assets.

The administration's destructive intent is apparent in the proposed revisions to the ESA by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries. These changes appear to be aimed at providing more opportunities for business interests to influence conservation decisions. Indeed, the administration has proposed to turn the law on its head by allowing consideration of economic impacts in listing decisions, restricting …

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