News & Politics

Trump Signs Order Relaxing Many Environmental Regulations During Crisis

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Donald Trump signed an executive order that would waive requirements under several environmental laws for construction projects and energy projects overseen by several federal agencies.

The Hill reports that Trump wrote, “From the beginning of my Administration, I have focused on reforming and streamlining an outdated regulatory system that has held back our economy with needless paperwork and costly delays. The need for continued progress in this streamlining effort is all the more acute now, due to the ongoing economic crisis.”

The order affects the enforcement of laws like the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The paperwork associated with NEPA alone is staggering. That law makes it incredibly easy for anyone opposed to a project to register objections, causing delays of months or years on vital infrastructure projects.

Naturally, there is pushback — and as it turns out, the greens question the timing.

“This administration is removing phantom barriers that are at their essence protections for the very communities that are struggling most from the health impacts of air and water pollution,” Christy Goldfuss, who headed the White House Council on Environmental Quality under the Obama administration and now works at the Center for American Progress, said in a statement.

“They’re trying to divert attention away from the crisis of racial injustice happening around the country, by giving agency leads the excuse to ram through polluting projects that will prop up the dying fossil fuel industry while destroying the very same communities that are dying at higher rates from COVID-19 and police violence, as well,” she added.

“Trying to divert attention” from the riots? That’s nonsense, of course, which is par for the course coming from a radical Obama greenie. In fact, most of those laws were festooned with unnecessary regulations. It’s not the laws being waived. It’s the onerous rules that unnecessarily impede progress that are being waived.

Basically, the order would fast-track some projects that require considerable agency review. Trump signed another executive order last month that directed agencies to identify regulations that would impede the economic recovery. But this order is far more sweeping.

The latest order goes further, directing agencies to use their own emergency authorities and the emergency provisions of environmental laws to skip over standard requirements.

Agencies will now have 30 days to report which projects will be expedited under the order, but there is no requirement for that list to be publicized.

Some environmentalists like Natural Resources Defense Council’s Nada Culver don’t see the need to speed the recovery.

“They’re trying to use the authority to say ‘We have an emergency and it will last until this administration feels like it, and that emergency is now defined so broadly as an economic issue that it will never end,’” she told The Hill. “‘We’ll keep delaying any NEPA requirements and you’ll have to guess what we’re approving and what we’re doing.’”

That’s just paranoid blather and hysterical exaggeration. All the order does is relieve some of the paperwork and regulatory burden on companies which will save them time and money. Those companies don’t want to be sued for any damage to the environment which greens will still be able to do.

The image of the rapacious, polluting capitalist is a favorite among environmentalists. It plays into their simple-minded worldview that nature is so weak and fragile that any harm done would be catastrophic.

Not seeing that every regulation isn’t necessary to protect the environment is the great failing of the modern environmental movement.