THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
Posted In: Politics, National, State, From Issue 852 By: Terry Miller - The Lone Tree Council
26th October, 2017 0
Recently The New York Times listed 48 environmental rules that the Trump Administration has placed on the chopping block, with 25 of them that have already been overturned. Here is a list encompassing 21 of the more significant ones:
1). Revoked Obama-era Flood Standards for Federal Infrastructure Projects. The Obama-era rule, revoked by President Trump in August, required that federal agencies protect new infrastructure projects by building to higher flood standards. Building trade groups and many Republican lawmakers opposed it as costly and burdensome. The National Flood Insurance Program was already $24 billion in debt before hurricanes Harvey & Irma.
2). Rejected a Proposed Ban on a Potentially Harmful Insecticide. Dow Agrosciences, which sells the insecticide chlorpyrifos, opposed a risk analysis by the Obama-era EPA that found the compound posed a risk to fetal brain and nervous system development. Trump EPA appointee Scott Pruitt rejected the EPA’s analysis, arguing the chemical needed ‘further study’.
3). Lifted a Freeze on New Coal Leases on Public Lands. Coal companies weren’t thrilled about the Obama administration’s three-year freeze pending an environmental review. Mr. Zinke, the interior secretary, revoked the freeze and review in March. He appointed members to a new advisory committee on coal royalties in September. Lifting the moratorium is expected to cost taxpayers by preventing them from getting fair market value for publicly owned coal for the foreseeable future. The review – the first in over 30 years – was launched to help ensure taxpayers are receiving a fair return for use of their natural resources. Taxpayers are estimated to be losing $1 billion a year in revenues because coal companies are not paying royalties on the actual market price of coal extracted from federal lands. Royalty payments are split between the federal government and the state where the coal is mined, and coal lease sales in the past decade garnered close to $1 per ton in bids.
4). Cancelled a Requirement for Oil & Gas Companies to Report Methane Emissions. In March, Republican officials from 11 states wrote a letter to Mr. Pruitt saying the rule added costs and paperwork for oil and gas companies. The next day Pruitt revoked the rule.
5). Revoked a Rule That Prevented Coal Companies from Dumping Mining Debris into Local Streams. The coal industry said the rule was overly burdensome, calling it part of a ‘war on coal’. In February, Congress passed a bill revoking the rule, which Mr. Trump signed into law.
6). Approved the Keystone XL Pipeline. Republicans, along with oil, gas and steel industry groups, opposed Mr. Obama’s decision to block the pipeline, arguing the project would create jobs and support North American energy independence. After the pipeline company reapplied for a permit, the Trump Administration approved it.
7). Approved the Dakota Access Pipeline. Republicans criticized Obama for delaying construction after protests led by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Mr. Trump ordered an expedited review of the pipeline, and the Army approved it. Crude oil began flowing on June 1, but a federal judge later ordered a new environmental review.
8). Prohibited Funding Third-Party Projects through Federal Lawsuit Settlements, which Could Include Environmental Programs. Companies settling lawsuits with the federal government have sometimes paid for third-party projects, like when Volkswagen put $2.7 billion toward pollution-fighting programs after its emissions cheating scandal. The Justice Department has now prohibited such payments, which some conservatives have called ‘slush-funds.’
9). Repealed a Ban on Offshore Oil & Gas Drilling in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. Lobbyists for the oil industry were opposed to Obama’s use of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to permanently pan offshore drilling along parts of the Atlantic coast and much of the ocean around Alaska. Mr. Trump repealed the policy in an April executive order and instructed his Interior Secretary Zinke to review the locations made available for offshore drilling.
10). Proposed the Use of Seismic Air Guns for Gas & Oil Exploration in the Atlantic. Following an Executive Order in April known as the America-First Offshore Energy Strategy, the Trump Administration began in application process to allow five oil and gas companies to survey the Atlantic using seismic air guns, which fire loud blasts that can harm whales, fish and turtles. The Obama Administration had previously denied such permits.
11). Revoked a 2016 Order Protecting the Northern Bering Sea Region in Alaska. Trump revoked Mr. Obama’s 2016 order protecting the Bering Sea and Bering Strait by conserving biodiversity, engaging Alaska Native tribes and building a sustainable economy in the Arctic, which is vulnerable to climate change.
12). Repealed an Obama-era Rule Regulating Royalties for Oil, Gas & Coal. Lobbyists for the fossil fuel industry opposed 2016 Interior Department regulations meant to ensure fair royalties were paid to the government for oil, gas and coal extracted from federal or tribal land. In August, the Trump Administration rescinded the rule, saying it caused ‘confusion and uncertainty’ for energy companies.
13). Withdrew Guidance for Federal Agencies to Include Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Environmental Reviews. Republicans in Congress opposed the guidelines, which advised federal agencies to account for possible climate effects in environmental impact reviews. They argued that the government lacked the authority to make such recommendations and that the new rules would slow down permitting.
14). Relaxed the Environmental Review Process for Federal Infrastructure Projects. Oil and gas industry leaders said the permit-issuing process for new infrastructure projects was costly and cumbersome. In an August executive order, Trump announced a policy he said would streamline the process for pipelines, bridges, power lines and other federal projects. The order put a single federal agency in charge of navigating environmental reviews, instituted a 90-day timeline for permit authorization decisions and set a goal of completing the full process in two years.
15). Announced Intent to Stop Payments to the Green Climate Fund. Trump said he would cancel payments to the fund, a United Nations program that helps developing countries reduce emissions and adapt to climate change. Mr. Obama had pledged $3 billion, $1 billion of which Congress has already paid out over the opposition of some Republicans.
16). Dropped Proposed Restrictions on Mining in Bristol Bay, Alaska A Canadian company sued the EPA over an Obama-era plan to restrict mining in Bristol Bay, an important salmon fishery. The Trump administration settled the suit and allowed the company to apply for permits to build a large gold and copper mine in the area. Alaska Republicans, including Senator Lisa Murkowski, supported the mine.
17). Removed the Yellowstone Grizzly Bear from the Endangered List. Nothing that the species population had ‘rebounded from as few as 136 bears in 1975 to an estimated 700 today’, the Interior Department delisted the Yellowstone grizzly. Delisting the bears was first formally proposed by the Obama Administration in March, 2016.
18). Overturned a Ban on the Hunting of Predators in Alaskan Wildlife Refuges. Alaskan politicians opposed the law, which prevented hunters from shooting wolves and grizzly bears on wildlife refuges, arguing that the state has authority over those lands. Congress passed a bill revoking the rule, which Mr. Trump signed into law.
19). Withdrew Proposed Limits on Endangered Marine Mammals Caught by Fishing Nets on the West Coast. Under President Trump, the National Marine Fisheries Service withdrew the proposed rule, noting high costs to the fishing industry and arguing that sufficient protections were already in place.
20). Stopped Discouraging the Sale of Plastic Water Bottles in National Parks. The National Park Service has urged parks to reduce or eliminate the sale of disposable plastic water bottles in favor of filling stations and reusable bottles. The International Bottled Water Association called the action unjustified.
21). Removed Copper Filter Cake, an Electronics Manufacturing Byproduct, From the ‘Hazardous Waste List’. Samsung petitioned the EPA to delist the product, which is produced during electroplating at its Texas semiconductor facility. The EPA granted the petition after a public comment period.
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THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)