While the Trump Administration has struggled overall to develop and implement coherent policies, the Administration has had some success in the environmental sphere. Through a series of presidential memoranda, executive orders, agency administrative notices, and legislative action, there is a lot of change in the air (no pun intended).
DWT has undertaken to track developments for our clients and friends on this blog site. Each post will include an explanation with the phrase “what it means” to help put new developments in context and to take a step beyond just reporting the news. If you don’t subscribe (and we certainly invite you to), a search of “Trump Track” and “what it means” should get you there.
Much of what the Administration has put forward to date directs federal agencies—EPA, Interior, Transportation—to review Obama-era regulations with an eye toward rescission. Undoing these regulations, however, does not happen with a stroke of the president’s pen. There is a lot of process for the government to go through, which will create a target-rich environment for NGOs or states to bring challenges in court. Existing federal law requires deliberate, standards-driven, and time consuming decision making. Watch for cases invoking the Administrative Procedure Act and National Environmental Policy Act as entry points for contesting major policy shifts under the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Superfund, and other substantive federal environmental laws.
In addition, many states have announced their intentions to proceed with environmental policy regardless of what the federal government does, particularly in the control of greenhouse gas emissions. Where DWT has offices, we intend to track state actions in response to or despite federal changes.
To get started, we have prepared the attached cheat sheet that summarizes Trump environmental initiatives to date. Watch this space for updates.