Biden puts Trump's climate and environmental rollbacks in his crosshairs
Posted January 20, 2021 5:07 a.m. EST
CNN — Among incoming President Joe Biden's Day One priorities: Begin rolling back climate and environmental policies of the Trump administration, many of which were rollbacks of Obama-era or earlier rules.
Biden's advisers have compiled a list of more than 100 rules and policies developed by the Trump administration that it sees as targets for review, CNN has learned. Each of the policies relate to environmental conservation and climate change and are linked to an executive order Biden intends to sign on public health and the environment.
Many items on the list are key targets of criticism by the environmental groups that accused the Trump administration of disregarding the hazards of climate change and being overly sympathetic to the wishes of industry.
The list for review includes a policy President Donald Trump's Environmental Protection Agency called "the largest deregulatory initiative of this administration": the replacement of Obama-era fuel efficiency rules for cars. It also targets the administration's decision that would allow roads and logging in a pristine part of the country's largest national forest, and Trump's changes that would gum up the process of protecting vulnerable flora and fauna with the Endangered Species Act.
Included on the list are several changes to household utilities that Trump touted at his rallies.
Energy efficiency limits, he said, complicated washing his "beautiful hair properly" under weak showerheads, and drew complaints and rendered dishwashers ineffective. His energy secretary overturned a tightening of lightbulb rules after the President told his crowds new lightbulb technology are the reason "I always look orange."
Some of the policies may be easier than others to halt, prevent from taking effect, or overturn.
A May 2020 policy on mineral ownership in part of North Dakota, for example, was a legal memorandum, and could be reversed with an updated legal memorandum by Biden appointees. The administration also overturned through legal memorandum a 25-year-old policy protecting the sand along protected shoreline from being sold off.
The bulk of the Biden team's nine-page list may be complicated to rescind or reverse because the Trump administration wrote them into formal regulations.
There are other avenues the Biden administration could pursue, though.
With a Democratic majority -- however slim -- in both houses of Congress, the administration could also look to Capitol Hill for help. The Congressional Review Act would allow lawmakers and Biden to together overturn agency rules in recent months. Trump and the Republican majorities in Congress used the rule to roll back moves by the Obama administration soon after he took office.
It could also choose to side with the groups challenging virtually every major environmental and energy decision by the Trump administration in court.
It won't have to look far, either. Perhaps the most recent challenge, this time to roll back of bird protections, was filed by a coalition of environmental groups on Tuesday -- the day before Biden took office.