EPA in Trump Crosshairs

January 23, 2017

According to Axios.com, the new administration's transition team is taking aim at the Environmental Protection Agency budget, regulatory and scientific targets. Axios.com obtained a document written by Myron Ebell, director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Center for Energy and Environment. President Donald Trump appointed Ebell, a prominent opponent of climate change activists, to lead the EPA transition.

Ebell lists these EPA targets as "Potential opportunities for budget reductions":

  • Listed as initiatives to stop: "Clean Air Act greenhouse gas regulations for new (NSPS) and existing (ESPS or the 'Clean Power' Plan) coal and natural gas power plants … [CAFE] Standards … Clean Water Section 404: Waters of the U.S. Rule (wetlands) … TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) for Chesapeake Bay.
  • "Key opportunities": "Issue an executive order barring EPA from overruling federal/state regulatory/permit decisions unless in clear violation of established law."
  • Changing the way the EPA uses science: "Unless major reforms of the agency's use of science and economics are achieved, EPA will be able to return to its bad old ways as soon as an establishment administration takes office."

One of the striking aspects of the document was its language about the agency's use of scientific research and economic analysis to justify its actions. A section titled 'Addendum on the problems with ETA science' leads with this paragraph:

EPA does not use science to guide regulatory policy as much as it uses regulatory policy to steer the science. This is an old problem at EPA. In 1992, a blue-ribbon panel of EPA science advisers that [sic] 'science should not be adjusted to fit policy.' But rather than heed this advice, EPA has greatly increased its science manipulation.

Scott Pruitt, nominated by Trump to lead the agency, has not yet been confirmed.