Thursday, December 01, 2016

Trump’s First 100 Days: Environmental Policy and Public Lands

By Cally Carswell

...Donald Trump’s dark-horse finish in the presidential race last month is raising similar concerns: Is Barack Obama’s environmental legacy doomed? Trump hasn’t articulated a detailed environmental agenda, but what he has said has the fossil fuel industry celebrating and environmentalists girding for battle. And it’s given the Roadless Rule saga new resonance. When Bush took office, he delayed implementation of the rule and lengthy court battles ensued. But after more than a decade of litigation, the rule largely held up. It’s not always easy for a new administration to undo the work of the last. Nevertheless, Trump has said he will approve the Keystone XL pipeline, rescind the Clean Power Plan, scrap a stream and wetland protection rule, and end a temporary moratorium on leasing of federal coal reserves. He’s also made broad promises to “lift restrictions” on energy development on public lands. Overall though, his ambitions are murky at best. “The current administration is more unpredictable than any administration that has ever come into office, at least within my lifetime,” says Erik Schlenker-Goodrich, executive director of the Western Environmental Law Center. “We are in uncharted waters.” Whether Trump can deliver on his pledges depends in part on how the Obama administration advanced its own agenda. The coal-leasing moratorium, for instance, can be reversed immediately, says Matt Lee-Ashley, a public lands expert with the Center for American Progress. Where coal seams underlie federal land, agencies within the Department of the Interior offer leases to mining companies, which then pay royalties on the coal they dig. Last January, current Interior Secretary Sally Jewell instituted a moratorium on new leases via a “secretarial order”—the cabinet members’ version of the president’s executive order. Trump’s Interior Secretary could perform the same move in reverse, with the stroke of a pen. Likewise, Obama’s State Department had authority to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which would deliver crude oil from the Canadian tar sands to refineries and ports on the U.S. Gulf Coast. His administration rejected TransCanada’s application for a permit to allow construction across an international border. If the company resubmits its application, Trump could green-light it. The new Republican Congress can also ask Trump to overturn regulations finalized late in Obama’s term. The Congressional Review Act gives the House and Senate 60 days in session to scrutinize rules developed and finalized by executive branch agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In that time, Congress can pass a “joint resolution of disapproval” for a new rule. If the President signs the resolution, the rule is vacated. Because Congress takes so many breaks, rules finalized after May 30 of this year will likely be subject to congressional review, according to the Congressional Research Service. Trump’s options for erasing Obama’s earlier environmental achievements are more complicated. Take the stream and wetland protections known as the Clean Water Rule, issued by the EPA and the Army Corp of Engineers...more


Anonymous said...

Interesting article:
....."Take the stream and wetland protections known as the Clean Water Rule, issued by the EPA and the Army Corp of Engineers. The 2015 rule clarified the federal government’s jurisdiction to protect small and intermittent streams and wetlands from pollution. Developers, business and agriculture groups oppose the rule, saying it infringes on private property rights and creates undue regulatory burdens. Implementation is on hold while the courts consider the rule, and Trump could let the legal system decide the issue. Or, he could ask the court to send the rule back to the EPA for revision. In that scenario, Trump’s EPA would presumably weaken it. (In a 2015 Fox News interview, Trump said of the agency, “what they do is a disgrace.”) But any administrative effort to rewrite the rule would be subject to public comment and litigation, and would require the EPA to justify its actions. Alternatively, CONGRESS could try to PASS LEGISLATION to rescind the rule, which Trump would surely sign."

Congress pass legislation amending the CWA with wording like this:
"This document/Act (Clean Water Act) shall not apply to any of the following:
a). Intermittent or ephemeral streams or washes.
b). Irrigation ditches or ponds."

That would restore and protect private property rights and rights.

Anonymous said...

..."c). Private property rights & rights are paramount and must always prevail."