Trump Administration Uses Pandemic to Slash Safeguards

WASHINGTON (May 19, 2020) – President Trump signed an executive order today directing federal agencies to roll back a host of regulations, and is encouraging agencies to ‘waive, suspend and eliminate’ regulations they deem unnecessary—as well as make permanent some pandemic-related suspensions of regulations.

The following is a statement from Gina McCarthy, president and CEO of NRDC (the Natural Resources Defense Council):

“When you hear the Trump administration say it wants to eliminate ‘red tape,’ think: protections Congress ordered agencies to put in place to protect you and me from coronavirus, air pollution, and a whole host of other harms that can make us sick and even kill us.  And as far as EPA is concerned, finding more 'red tape' will be like getting blood from a stone.  During the pandemic alone, EPA has moved to increase our exposure to mercury, soot, toxic chemicals and perchlorate. What’s left to cut?

“Hasn’t anyone in the White House noticed that our economy depends on keeping people healthy?  Why can’t they just start focusing on rebuilding our nation to make it stronger, healthier and more prosperous and stop telling agencies to cut protections that keep us from getting sick?”


The Trump administration’s own Office of Management and Budget, in an analysis of major safeguards in 2017, found that the benefits of regulations far exceed the costs of adopting them.  For every dollar spent complying with safeguards put in place between 2006 and 2016, the public reaped between $2 and $12 in annual benefits—that is, saved lives and improved health or safety. Environmental Protection Agency safeguards yield staggering benefits, the OMB found, on the order of $149 to $706 billion per year. The EPA’s clean air protections alone yielded benefits between $138 and $684 billion, mostly in saved lives.

NRDC has sued the administration 112 times since Trump took office, and has won 90% of the cases resolved to date.

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The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.​