The pending changes to America’s environmental policies will primarily benefit oil and gas companies and make it that much more challenging for President-elect Joe Biden to advance protections for the environment, climate, and public health, just one of his campaign promises.
“We’re going to see a real scorched-earth effort here at the tail end of the administration,” said Brian Rutledge, a vice president at the National Audubon Society, reports Time.
The Trump administration’s last hurrah will cap four years of unprecedented environmental deregulation by President Donald Trump. Since coming into office in January 2017, the administration has repealed or started to rollback 100 environmental regulations, all as part of a concerted effort to remove obstacles for business, especially the fossil fuel industry.
Rollbacks on regulations dealing with air pollution and emissions number 27, the most of any single environmental regulation category. Many of the rollbacks deal with eliminating requirements for oil and gas companies to report methane emissions and calculate the “social cost of carbon,” part of an Obama era rule meant to calculate the long-term benefits of carbon dioxide reduction.
Other environmental rollbacks, including removing protections for millions of miles of waterways and wetlands, as well as reducing protections for wildlife species facing extinction are being litigated in court.
Another rollback is the auto emissions standard, part of the administration’s ongoing push to roll back Obama-era environmental rules that President Donald Trump argues have held back the U.S. economy. This one has met with strenuous resistance from California and other states.
And just the other day, the administration said it plans to auction drilling rights in the U.S. Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, who has vowed to block oil exploration in the rugged Alaska wilderness.
There are more proposals that have come to light this week, including changing the emissions standards for small but dangerous particles of pollution emitted by refineries and other industrial sources. Another proposal would allow more drilling and mining on thousands of square miles of public lands around New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon National Historical Park, according to the Associated Press.
Many Trump critics are looking to two pending Senate contests in Georgia. The run-off for two senate seats could end up deciding which party controls the US Senate and the course of Joe Biden’s presidency. If Democrats win both seats, they’ll control the Senate and the House and will be in a position to invoke the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to strike down newly approved regulations.