Legal Impacts of the Trump’s Administration
Three Years After— Where Does Implementation of the Lautenberg Act Stand? Kevin McLean
The former Associate General Counsel for EPA’s Pesticides and Toxic Substances Law Office, explores the history and implementation of the original TSCA, the revisions made to TSCA in 2016 by the Lautenberg Act, and EPA’s experience in implementing the Lautenberg Act after its passage in June 2016.
EPA’s Final Methane Emissions Rules Roll Back Standards and Statutory Authority Hana Vizcarra
The EPA released its final rescission and revision of the 2012 and 2016 VOC and methane standards for oil and gas facilities. The two actions, referred to as the Review Rule and Reconsideration Rule, fully rescind VOC and methane standards for transmission and storage and methane standards for all segments and revise standards for VOC emissions in the production and processing segments. The Review Rule is in effect. The rule breaks with decades of EPA interpretation of the Clean Air Act to take a stance that could limit EPA’s ability to regulate GHG emissions from any source. The Reconsideration Rule will go into effect on Nov. 16, 2020.
Final Rollback of Fuel Economy & GHG Standards for Cars and Light Trucks Caitlin McCoy
In spring 2020, EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concluded their joint rule making process for the Safer, Affordable, Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule. The agencies finalized two rules. First, a legal interpretation rule that preempts and withdraws California’s waiver, granted under section 209 of the Clean Air Act, and reinterprets section 177 to bar other states from following California’s GHG standards. Second, a rule that weakens the GHG standards and sets new fuel economy standards for 2021-2026. In this post, we detail the climate impact of these changes, explain the legal framework, and describe ongoing litigation challenging the rules.
EPA’s House of Cards: the Affordable Clean Energy Rule Joe Goffman and Caitlin McCoy
EPA’s Repeal of the Clean Power Plan and Affordable Clean Energy rule employ a legally risky strategy to curtail agency authority under the Clean Air Act. EPA argues that its interpretation of subsections 111(a)(1) and (d) of the Clean Air Act reflects the “plain meaning” of “unambiguous” statutory language. EPA is pursuing a high risk/high reward approach that could affect agency authority far into the future, but it may have been forced to take this approach by the rulemaking record. The D.C. Circuit is considering the case right now and the decision could change the way the Clean Air Act is interpreted. Even if the court does not get a chance to rule in the case, a future administration will have to address the legal interpretations finalized in these rules.
How Statutory Interpretation of the Clean Air Act Serves the Trump Administration’s Deregulatory Agenda Joe Goffman and Laura Bloomer
The Trump EPA is using the rollbacks to advance new interpretations of the Clean Air Act that restrict EPA’s statutory authority to address climate change and other air pollution challenges. These new legal interpretations threaten EPA’s ability to deliver needed reductions in air pollution. They run counter to EPA and the CAA’s historic path, which for decades advanced along with technology and science, resulting in more effective environmental protection over time. This deliberate transformation of EPA’s understanding of its legal mandate may be longer-lasting than other deregulatory efforts. A new administration could rebuild a strong regulatory regime and could commit to re-investing in EPA’s scientific expertise. Certain changes to EPA’s interpretation of the law, however, could complicate efforts to revive stronger regulations and create permanent constraints on EPA’s authority to combat environmental threats.
Institutional Undermining under Trump
Managing Public Lands under the Trump Administration and Beyond Laura Bloomer, Peter Daniels, Eric Wriston, & Joseph Goffman
The Department of Interior has rolled back regulations designed to protect endangered and threatened species as well as grazing and land use reforms, offered unprecedented areas of public lands for oil and gas development, and attempted to shrink and weaken protections for national monuments. This direction is likely to continue should President Trump win a second term. If a Biden administration takes office, DOI will need to reverse some of the Trump administration’s management decisions in order to back away from the energy dominance agenda and restore Interior’s capacities. This will include prioritizing conservation and science-based decision making, accelerating clean energy projects, and restoring the US’s relationship with tribal nations.
40 Law Scholars Oppose EPA’s Changes to the Ozone Standards-Setting and Science-Advising Process
In August, EPA proposed to leave unchanged the current National Ambient Air Quality Standards. The proposal defied accumulating scientific evidence that tightening the standards would be critical to providing adequate protection of public health, as the Clean Air Act requires. Despite the science, this outcome was foreseeable: EPA’s political leadership spent more than two years making changes to the composition and functioning of the Clean Air Science Advisory Committee and the NAAQS process itself that from the beginning were clearly designed to serve this deregulatory outcome.