Week of June 14, 2020


Last Thursday, June 4, 2020, President Trump signed another wide sweeping executive order to help fast-track infrastructure projects on such things as highways and pipelines and to do so while skirting the environmental rules and regulations that, for the most part, were put into place to protect the physical environment and to ensure a safe living environment for all—especially communities most affected by these projects.  This new executive order is on top of over 600 environmental rollbacks that have been proposed by this administration during his term in office.  More than 60 are permanent and the rest are either in progress or defeated. (See website below for further information on these rollbacks) The new executive order has two main features.  The first is that the president would like to have on his desk within 30 days, comprehensive lists of projects that can be put on the fast-track for completion by such agencies as the Department of the Interion, Department of Defense, Army Corps of Engineers and others.  Normally such projects would be considered individually and face tough rules and regulation and public and environmental groups input.  This order would skirt that by calling the present economic crisis an extreme emergency that should not be “burdened” with “unnecessary and harsh” regulations while the country suffers from great job losses.  Secondly, the administration would like to reduce the procedures for calculating the cost/benefit ratio of any project.  For example, health care cost reductions because of mercury pollution at a power plant might be restricted to that site and not include the wider community—making the costs higher and the regulations considered too costly.  This type of thinking would also apply to rules and regulations coming from the EPA.  Last January, the administration was also able to quietly remove from consideration by the EPA any climate change calculation in new regulations. Continuing to site the economy as being in “crisis” and needing “emergency action”, anti-environmentalist groups hope they will wear away at and eventually diminish the power of the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act and the Endangered species Act. All have been seen as too burdensome by the President for a “great economy”. 

Environmentalists, activists and lawyers are already saying that this executive order is too broad and not based on sound thinking or on sound legal ground.  The Center for Biological Diversity says that “The president is exploiting the pandemic for political gain.”  Others like the Club for Growth—a free market group, approves the executive action and looks forward to thousands of new jobs. The reality is that this tug of war will continue until the election.  

EARTH STEWARD ACTION:  Keep up your knowledge base on what is happening to environmental regulations even in times of pandemic, need for better policing and racial tensions.  As we now know, and must take into consideration, all are tied together.

SOURCES:  https://www.thehill.com/policy/energyhttps://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/climate/trump-envoronment-rollbacks (the list of 600 or more rollbacks—good solid information on administration activities) https://nytimes.com/2020/04/04/climate/trump-envoronment-coronavirus