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Leon Kaye headshot

EPA Seeks Public Comment on Which Environmental Regs to Axe

By Leon Kaye

As the Donald Trump administration pulls out all the stops in reversing just about anything bearing Barack Obama’s handprint – including, of course, environmental regulations – the Environmental Protection Agency is seeking public comment on its current slate of rules.

The EPA’s Regulatory Reform Task Force submitted a Federal Register notice on Tuesday that outlines the recommendations it is seeking from the general public. The task force in particular is soliciting comments that identify regulations linked to the elimination of jobs, are outdated or ineffective, “create a serious inconsistency,” or are based on data the administration deems as “insufficiently transparent to meet the standard of reproducibility.”

In explaining the calls for public comment, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said, “The previous administration abused the regulatory process to advance an ideological agenda that expanded the reach of the federal government.” By documenting feedback from individuals that have been affected by EPA regulations, Pruitt said the agency could partner with state and local governments to “ensure that we can provide clean air, land and water to Americans.”

The new task force, which began taking shape on Feb. 24 after one of the White House’s first executive orders targeting the EPA, has been instructed to “lower regulatory burdens on the American people.”

Among the many rules implemented by the Obama administration that has been -- or will be -- axed by Donald Trump and his supporting team is the requirement that government agencies no longer incorporate the social cost of carbon when evaluating the impact of new regulations or programs.

Meanwhile, a federal appeals court paused a lawsuit filed against the EPA over a 2015 ozone pollution rule.

The Trump administration requested the delay last week as the EPA mulls whether it wants to repeal the rule outright or adopt a different tactic on the issue, The Hill reported on Wednesday. The rule calls for the allowable concentration of ozone in the air to be lowered from 75 to 70 parts per billion -- which led energy companies, business groups and some states to take the EPA to court.

By requesting public comment, the new team leading the EPA could score more ammunition in supporting its agenda to overturn regulations implemented over the previous decade. But the sword cuts both ways: Environmental groups -- as well as clean-energy and technology companies, along with attorneys and policy experts committed to their cause -- could just as well relentlessly submit their comments and feedback over the next month.

Such tactics are analogous to the sudden end of the “repeal and replace movement” to gut the Affordable Care Act. The pitchforks were aimed and ready to eliminate Obamacare, until many citizens realized that it was not only “undeserving” folks who could lose affordable health care, but that they, too, risked losing their prized ease of access to doctors and cost-effective prescription drugs. Could the Trump administration be opening another door that, in a few weeks, they may wish they had left shut?

After all, the administration, through its EPA task force, says it wants “input” from NGOs, tribal governments, consumers, small businesses and local governments. They could very well score copious amounts of comments – only not quite the kind of feedback they hoped.

Image credit: urbanfeel/Flickr

Leon Kaye headshot

Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.

Read more stories by Leon Kaye