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Trump Agenda Hones In On Obama's Environmental Rules

| by Robert Fowler

The Trump administration has withdrawn or frozen hundreds of regulations put in place by the Obama administration. President Donald Trump's effort to dramatically roll back federal regulations has taken special aim at his predecessors' environmental rules.

Supporters of the president's agenda believe rooting out the regulations will help stimulate financial growth while critics assert it will harm Americans' quality of life and hinder efforts to preserve the environment in the face of climate change.

On July 20, the Trump administration's Office of Management and Budget released its first semiannual regulatory agenda, also known as a unified agenda. The list detailed how the administration planned to eliminate or freeze 860 pending regulations.

"I cannot express to you enough how much things have changed when it comes to the regulatory burden, the attitudes towards regulations, in this country, and you are just going to see more of that for the next eight years," said OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, according to The Washington Post.

The unified agenda confirmed that 469 rules were either dismantled or on the chopping block while 391 were suspended pending further reevaluation.

The regulatory rollback represents a blow to former President Barack Obama's environmental legacy. Several key environmental protections have been either eliminated or frozen.

Environmental advocates have been alarmed by the pace of the Trump administration's removal of environmental protections. Since assuming office, Trump has eliminated a rule that prohibited mining companies from disposing of their waste into water bodies, eliminated a federal requirement for state officials to collect emissions data from their oil and gas industries and withdrew a rule that forced energy companies to disclose any payments to foreign governments, according to The Guardian.

On Jun 27, the Environmental Protection Agency announced it would withdraw the Obama administration's Waters of the U.S. rule. Removing the rule would shrink both the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' regulatory authorities over the nation's water bodies by over one-third.

The Trump administration has also frozen the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan, an ambitious regulation to reduce carbon emissions from the nation's electricity sector. The administration has signaled it will eliminate the rule after review.

Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune blasted the Trump administration's unified agenda in a statement.

"Six months in, and Donald Trump’s only achievements are diminishing America's standing abroad and undermining essential protections for our families and communities at home to enrich fossil fuel executives," Brune said, according to ThinkProgress. "If you’ve been wondering why Trump is one of the least popular presidents in history, look no further than the exact things he is bragging about." 

Former Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a conservative economist, pushed back on accusations that the Trump administration was going too far in its regulatory rollback.

"There’s no question the Obama administration went too far," Holtz-Eakin said. "The notion that you should stop and reexamine things is perfectly sensible."

Meanwhile, former EPA Director Christine Todd Whitman of the Bush administration was alarmed by Trump's rapid-fire elimination of environmental protections.

"I’ve been very concerned by what I’ve seen -- this is about people’s health," Whitman said. "They are undermining science and people's respect for science. They don’t seem to care."

Does eliminating these regulations benefit Americans?
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