A Year in Review: The EPA and the Trump Administration
President Donald Trump took office last January with a keen focus on minimizing regulatory burdens imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency. In the first months of his presidency, Trump took aim at many Obama-era regulations, issuing a spate of executive orders promoting deregulation, reduced regulatory costs, energy independence, expedited environmental reviews for infrastructure projects and economic growth. Two of these orders specifically called for the review and suspension, revision or rescission of the Clean Power Plan (CPP) greenhouse gas standards for existing power plants and the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule defining the jurisdictional reach of the Clean Water Act. Trump criticized these and other rules as symbolic of EPA’s overreach of authority, while Trump’s critics feared that under his direction, EPA would abdicate its responsibility to protect the environment. Indeed, the Trump administration was poised at its outset to significantly impact federal environmental law and policy, with Administrator Pruitt announcing a “back-to-basics” agenda that would refocus EPA on its intended mission, return power to the states, and create an environment where jobs can grow. Was that agenda realized in 2017, and what will we see from EPA in 2018?