Climate Change
October 13, 2018
Will deregulatory efforts harm the environment?

In an effort to reduce regulatory burdens on U.S. industries, President Trump is reversing or weakening federal climate change policies and regulations. The rollback has sparked legal challenges from environmentalists, health advocates and Democratic leaders, as well as heightened criticism from the international community. The administration’s actions come as scientists warn of increasingly intense storms and wildfires, rising sea levels and other effects of global warming. Courts are beginning to rule on challenges to the administration’s deregulatory actions, providing support to opponents in several cases. Meanwhile, some states are undertaking initiatives to help the United States comply with an international climate accord despite the president’s decision to withdraw from the pact.

Alex Palms, 9, shows off his sign before the start of the Rise For Climate march on September 8, 2018, in San Francisco. California and 18 other states plan to sue the Trump administration over its proposal to roll back Obama-era fuel-efficiency standards. (AFP/Getty Images/Amy Osborne)   Alex Palms, 9, shows off his sign before the start of the Rise For Climate march on September 8, 2018, in San Francisco. California and 18 other states plan to sue the Trump administration over its proposal to roll back Obama-era fuel-efficiency standards. (AFP/Getty Images/Amy Osborne)

Rejecting scientists’ warnings about the dangers of global warming, the Trump administration continues to unwind Obama administration-era rules aimed at slowing climate change. The administration’s objective is to ease regulatory burdens on businesses, particularly the fossil fuel industry. In August, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation said they would scrap rules requiring carmakers to steadily reduce greenhouse gas pollution from cars and trucks through 2025. 1Also in August, the EPA released a proposal to replace former President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which sought to cut greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The EPA’s proposal is intended to be less burdensome for the coal industry — which President Trump has pledged to revive — by eliminating a federal mandate and letting states set their own standards. 2

The deregulatory moves are in line with the administration’s decision in 2017 to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Paris climate agreement, which seeks to cut the greenhouse gases that scientists say are causing the Earth’s climate to warm. On Nov. 4, the administration can formally submit a written notice of its intent to withdraw, according to the accord’s rules. But it will take at least another year after that for the withdrawal to be official. 3

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