US Environmental Protection Agency

Why Trump's EPA Is Far More Vulnerable to Attack Than Reagan's or Bush's

Smoke from smokestacks above cars lining a Cleveland road in 1973

By Walter Rosenbaum, University of Florida

For people concerned with environmental protection, including many EPA employees, there is broad agreement: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is in deep trouble. The Conversation

The Trump administration has begun the third, most formidable White House-led attempt in EPA’s brief history to diminish the agency’s regulatory capacity.

In Planned EPA Cuts, US to Lose Vital Connection to At-risk Communities

Government employees hold signs at a rally in support of the EPA

By Deborah Morrison and Nicole Smith Dahmen, University of Oregon

Recent headlines point to a relentless undoing of policy and process within the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Trump budget calls for slashing the EPA budget by an estimated 31 percent. Staff would be reduced by 25 percent and 50 programs could see cuts, such as ones designed to lower the health risks from lead paint.

In all likelihood, the first communities to feel effects of a dismantled EPA are those who consistently pay the biggest price when policy strays from being focused on people. It will be the indigenous people, the populations who live in poverty and at-risk communities — often populated by people of color — who typically feel the sharp cuts and public health effects first and fully.

Trump's Energy and Climate Change Order: Seven Essential Reads

Coal mine on federal land in New Mexico

By Jennifer Weeks, The Conversation

Editor’s note: The following is a roundup of archival stories. The Conversation

On March 28 President Trump signed an executive order that launched a broad assault on policies put in place by the Obama administration to reduce carbon pollution. Trump’s order directs the Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw and rewrite the Clean Power Plan, which limits carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. It also eliminates a number of other policies related to cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Our experts explain the policies under assault and the impacts of this about-face.

Improving Gas Mileage Will Cost up to 40 Percent Less than EPA Estimated: New Report

Hand on a gas pump filling a car

It may be far cheaper than previously estimated for American car manufacturers to meet fuel efficiency standards — slashing greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality, and helping drivers keep the cost of filling their gas tanks low — because the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) might have overestimated the price tag on innovation by as much as 40 percent, a newly published report by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) concludes.

The report comes a week after President Donald Trump visited Detroit and his administration lauched efforts expected to roll back federal standards requiring automakers to make new cars far more fuel efficient by 2025. However, the federal government isn't the only regulator in the U.S. with the authority to set emissions standards for cars.

Curbing Climate Change Has a Dollar Value — Here’s How and Why We Measure It

Ambulance and cars surrounded by Hurricane Sandy flood waters in Hoboken, New Jersey.

By , Harvard University

President Trump is expected to issue an executive order soon to reverse Obama-era rules to cut carbon pollution, including a moratorium on leasing public lands for coal mining and a plan to reduce carbon emissions from power plants.

Trump and his appointees argue that these steps will bring coal miners’ jobs back (although coal industry job losses reflect competition from cheap natural gas, not regulations that have yet to take effect). But they ignore the fact that mitigating climate change will produce large economic gains.

Now Under Attack, EPA’s Work on Climate Change Has Been Going on for Decades

Factory smokestack releasing clouds of pollution

By , University of Oregon

The Trump administration intends to roll back two pillars of the Obama administration’s climate policy — regulations to limit carbon emissions from vehicles and power plants.

Under President Obama, the Environmental Protection Agency was central to these regulations. But new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has said he plans to return the agency to its “core mission” of ensuring clean air and clean water, rather than addressing climate change.

Oil and Gas Lobby Fights California Regulators to Keep Injecting Drilling Wastewater into Protected Aquifers

Three active oil wells in a dry California landscape

Last month the California Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR), missed its own deadline for shutting down 475 oil industry injection wells determined to be dumping toxic fluids into protected California groundwater aquifers. The division said it would continue to allow more than 1,600 other wells to continue injections into federally protected aquifers because it believes they stand a chance of being exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act protections.

Yet the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), a regional oil and gas lobbying group, is still suing the agency to prevent any wells from closing.

Deniers Rally Conservatives to Dismiss Climate Science as “Fake News” and Share Breitbart Stories Instead

James Delingpole, Tony Heller, and Steve Milloy sit on a panel at CPAC 2017

The 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), an annual rally of conservative officials and political activists, was set to be a big one — the first time a first-year sitting president would have attended since Ronald Reagan. While President Trump canceled late in 2016, enthusiasm for the president still filled its halls, and so did a number of his White House, Cabinet, and transition team members — including at least one previously unannounced member of the EPA transition team. 

Joining the CPAC lineup was the usual cast of climate science deniers who branded climate change as “fake news,” scientists and environmental advocates as “some of the worst people in the world,” and polluted rivers catching fire in the pre-EPA era as “the price of industrialization.” 

Dimock, PA Lawsuit Trial-Bound as Study Links Fracking to Water Contamination in Neighboring County

A recent peer-reviewed study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has confirmed what many fracking critics have argued for years: drilling operations associated with hydraulic fracturing (“fracking) for oil and gas can contaminate groundwater. 

For the study, researchers examined groundwater contamination incidents at three homes in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale basin in Bradford County. As The New York Times explained, the water samples showed “traces of a compound commonly found in Marcellus Shale drilling fluids.”

The study's release comes as a seminal lawsuit demanding recovery for such damages winds its way to a jury trial later this year in the U.S. District Court in Scranton, PA. That case pits two families from Dimock, PA, located in neighboring Susquehanna County, against Texas-based, industry giant, Cabot Oil and Gas Corporation.

Peabody Coal Lawyer Laurence Tribe, Obama's Law Professor, Testifies in Congress vs. EPA Carbon Rule

Laurence Tribe, constitutional law professor at Harvard Law School and of-counsel at the firm Massey & Gail LLP, recently testified in front of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce against the proposed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) carbon rule

Currently working as legal counsel for coal industry giant Peabody Energy and helping the company write comments, Tribe submitted a 57-page legal memo to accompany his five-minute testimony (starting at 22:43). In December 2014, Tribe submitted 35 pages worth of comments to the EPA on its proposed rule.

Joining Tribe were both New York University School of Law professor Richard Revesz and Hunton & Williams attorney Allison Wood, who testified for and against the Clean Power Plan, respectively. But Tribe served as the star witness and fielded most of the questions from the Committee during the question-and-answer session.

Fittingly given his distinguished legal background, Tribe argued against the Clean Power Plan on constiutional law grounds. 

“Burning the Constiution should not become part of our national energy policy,” Tribe wrote in the early pages of the legal memo he submitted to the Committee. “At its core, the issue the Clean Power Plan presents is whether EPA is bound by the rule of law and must operate within the framework established by the United States Constitution.”

He also proposed a solution — favored by his client Peabody  in a section titled, “There is a Better Way.”

“The United States could…support carbon capture and storage technologies,” Tribe wrote, not mentioning Peabody's advocacy for so-called “clean coal.” 

“An 'all of the above' energy policy can support all forms of domestic energy production that will minimize carbon emissions, protect consumers and American jobs, and ensure that the U.S. remains independent from unreliable foreign sources of energy.”

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