November 9, 2020
By Hank Boerner – Chair & Chief Strategist – G&A Institute
For almost four l-o-n-g, long years we have been watching – and decrying! – the antics of the Trump Administration in the attempt to roll back vital federal environmental protections that have been put in place (and protected) by elected representatives of both parties over five decades.
It was President Richard M. Nixon – a Republican and conservative leader – who signed the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) into the law of the land. NEPA was established by the 91st Congress and became law on January 1, 1970.
This also established the President’s Council on Environmental Quality. What flowed thereafter was important…
…the Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) was created;
…The Clean Air Act was enacted into law;
…The Clean Water Act soon followed; and then
…Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA); and
…”Superfund” for clean up of contamination (actually, CERCLA-Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act); and
…Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act; and
…Endangered Species Act; and
…Federal Insectiside, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act; and
…Energy Policy Act; and
…Chemical Safety Information, Site Security and Fuels Regulatory Relief Act;
…and much more!
Beginning almost immediately as the Trump Administration took charge of the EPA and other cabinet agencies, these historic legislative achievements were being undermined and protections whittled away.
There will be new environmental overseers coming to town in 2021 and the great hopes pinned on the Biden-Harris Administration include rebuilding the important rules, oversight mechanisms and enforcement of the laws/rules by EPA, Interior, Energy and other agencies.
The New York Times today outlined the first steps that could be taken – issuance of presidential Executive Orders (EOs) and President Memoranda that would undo the same mechanisms employed by President Trump and EPA political leaders to undermine environmental protection measures.
We read in — “Biden Will Roll Back Parts of the Trump Agenda With Strokes of a Pen” – that on Day One, we can expect action on climate change, writes Michael D. Shear and Lisa Friedman.
That starts with notice to the United Nations that the U.S.A. will rejoin the Paris Agreement.
The move to revoke Trump era EOs and re-issue Obama-Biden Administration orders can be immediate; or, President Joe Biden in 2021 can issue new orders along the same lines of prior EOs addressing climate change issues.
Important: The new Executive Orders would create important policies for the heads and rank and file members of the departments – Defense, EPA, Labor, Commerce, Interior, SEC, and many others that in some way directly or indirectly are affected by climate change.
Attitudes do matter – and Presidential Executive Orders to heads of agencies really matter!
2021 is looking like climate change matters will move to front-and-center on the public policy agenda. The Financial Times today pointed out that candidate Joe Biden set a policy of having a target to reach zero carbon
While Donald Trump led the effort to isolate the United States from world affairs, China moved to pledge net zero by 2060 and Japan and South Korea set net zero targets.
With the USA back on board, real progress can be made toward meeting Paris Agreement goals. Exciting to consider: The United States of America as once again a leader in the drive to make the world a safer, healthier place for billions of us!
For a reminder of the Trump moves in 2017 to reverse a half-century and more of environmental protection, here’s my March 2017 look at what was underway just two months into the new administration, with a new leader (Administrator Scott Pruitt) at the helm of the EPA.
Let’s go back to March 2017 – Just two months into the Trump Administration – with bad news on climate change all around!