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Issue Analysis

Green Thumbs Down

FreedomWorks Foundation's Regulatory Action Center (RAC) has published an issue brief on the environmental regulations the Trump administration has rolled back. You can read the paper excerpted below or in its entirety in the attachment at the bottom of this post or HERE.

One of the main features of the Obama administration was its ruthlessly efficient use of the regulatory state. President Obama famously said that if Congress refused to act, he would employ “his pen and his phone” to get the job done. There was perhaps no area of public policy that embodied this approach more than the environment.

The Obama-era Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was busy during their eight years. In terms of cumulative cost, they surpassed every other agency. After the administration rolled out of town, the Obama EPA had accounted for 187 finalized regulations, totaling just over $344 billion in regulatory costs, and almost 33 million paperwork hours to do so. The administration certainly earned its “regulation nation” moniker.

This regulation nation spanned all aspects of the environment, from what gets emitted to the air, to what can be done on certain lands, and even as minute as what is considered a “navigable water.” The wide-reaching and ever-expanding nature of EPA’s authority impacted families and businesses across the United States, causing unnecessary burdens.

These burdens naturally led to resentment and anger towards unelected bureaucrats thinking they knew best and could tell Americans of all stripes how to live. After Donald Trump was elected on a platform running against the Obama environmental agenda, his administration came in poised to deliver the promised change of the campaign trail.

The administration promised to repeal at least two regulations for every new one implemented. President Trump appointed reform-minded Administrator Scott Pruitt to head the EPA and other cabinet officials dedicated to this promise. In almost three and a half years, the administration has not disappointed.

As we come to the end of the first Trump administration, this piece explores the history behind some of the most destructive regulations addressed by the administration. It also analyzes the impact of scaling them back and why it was so important to do so. Just as the Obama administration left no corner of the earth untouched by regulation, the pendulum eventually swung back. The air, sea, and land are all more free today because of it.