Mike Kelly’s Beloved Deregulations: 95 Ways to Kill Your Planet

 

     “Why don’t we get the heavy regulatory boot of the government off the throat of America’s job creators? Why don’t we make it easier for people to be profitable?”

– Congressman Mike Kelly

 

     The real political energy is always behind Wall Street and the big polluters. That’s where the big money is. … When you hear the refrain about “burdensome regulations” … it’s almost always a cover for the deregulatory agenda of two narrow interests: Wall Street and the big corporate polluters.

– From “Captured” by Sen. Sheldon Whiteside

 

     President Donald Trump and the Republican Party have been conducting a calculated, relentless, fossil-fuel-money-induced effort to systematically wreak havoc on all aspects of our environment while doing everything they can to make the ongoing damage from climate change even worse for future generations.

 

     All told, the Trump administration’s environmental rollbacks could significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions and lead to thousands of extra deaths from poor air quality every year, according to a report prepared by New York University Law School's State Energy and Environmental Impact Center.

 

     In December 2019, The New York Times ran a story titled, “95 Environmental Rules Being Rolled Back Under Trump.” It’s first paragraph read:

 

     “President Trump has made eliminating federal regulations a priority. His administration, with help from Republicans in Congress, has often targeted environmental rules it sees as burdensome to the fossil fuel industry and other big businesses.”

 

     This has included 58 completed rollbacks and 37 others in progress. Areas included air pollution and emissions, drilling and extraction, infrastructure and planning, animals, toxic substances and safety, and water pollution.

 

     The Trump administration has often used a “one-two punch” when rolling back environmental rules, Caitlin McCoy, a fellow in the Environmental and Energy Law Program at Harvard Law School who tracks regulatory rollbacks, told The Times. “First a delay rule to buy some time, and then a final substantive rule.”

 

     To show you the scope of their efforts, here are the rollbacks Trump and the GOP have either initiated or are in the process of putting in place that were listed in The Times article.

 

     When Congressman Mike Kelly praises the administration’s deregulation efforts, this is what he’s talking about.

 

Air pollution and emissions

 

Completed

 

     *Canceled a requirement for oil and gas companies to report methane emissions. Methane is a greenhouse gas and a major contributor to climate change.

 

     *Revised and partially repealed an Obama-era rule limiting methane emissions on public lands, including intentional venting and flaring from drilling operations.

 

     *Replaced the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which would have set strict limits on carbon emissions from coal- and gas-fired power plants, with a new version that would let states set their own rules.

 

     *Revoked California’s power to set its own more stringent emissions standards for cars and light trucks.

 

     *Repealed a requirement that state and regional authorities track tailpipe emissions from vehicles traveling on federal highways.

 

     *Loosened a Clinton-era rule designed to limit toxic emissions from major industrial polluters.

 

     *Revised a permitting program designed to safeguard communities from increases in pollution from new power plants to make it easier for facilities to avoid emissions regulations.

 

     *Amended rules that govern how refineries monitor pollution in surrounding communities.

 

     *Stopped enforcing a 2015 rule that prohibited the use of hydrofluorocarbons, powerful greenhouse gases, in air-conditioners and refrigerators.

 

     *Weakened an Obama-era rule meant to reduce air pollution in national parks and wilderness areas.

 

     *Weakened oversight of some state plans for reducing air pollution in national parks.

 

     *Directed agencies to stop using an Obama-era calculation of the “social cost of carbon” that rule makers used to estimate the long-term economic benefits of reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

 

     *Withdrew guidance that federal agencies include greenhouse gas emissions in environmental reviews. But several district courts have ruled that emissions must be included in such reviews.

 

     *Lifted a summertime ban on the use of E15, a gasoline blend made of 15 percent ethanol. (Burning gasoline with a higher concentration of ethanol in hot conditions increases smog.)

 

     *Changed rules to allow states and the Environmental Protection Agency to take longer to develop and approve plans aimed at cutting methane emissions from existing landfills.

 

     *Revoked an Obama executive order that set a goal of cutting the federal government’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent over 10 years.

 

In Process

 

     *Proposed relaxing Obama-era requirements that companies monitor and repair methane leaks at oil and gas facilities.

 

     *Proposed weakening Obama-era fuel-economy standards for cars and light trucks.

 

     *Submitted notice of intent to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement. The process of withdrawing cannot be completed until November 2020.

 

     *Proposed eliminating Obama-era restrictions that in effect required newly built coal power plants to capture carbon dioxide emissions.

 

     *Proposed a legal justification for weakening an Obama-era rule that limited mercury emissions from coal power plants. Mercury emissions wind up in waterways and thus enter the food chain.

 

     *Proposed revisions to standards for carbon dioxide emissions from new, modified and reconstructed power plants.

 

     *Began a review of emissions rules for power plant start-ups, shutdowns and malfunctions. In April, the E.P.A. proposed reversing a requirement that Texas follow the emissions rule, with implications for 35 other states.

 

     *Proposed the repeal of rules meant to reduce leaking and venting of hydrofluorocarbons from large refrigeration and air conditioning systems.

 

     *Opened for comment a proposal limiting the ability of individuals and communities to challenge E.P.A.-issued pollution permits before a panel of agency judges.

Drilling and extraction

Infrastructure and planning; Toxic substances and safety

Animals; Water pollution; Others

10 rules that were reinstated

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