The Trump administration has begun a multipronged effort to make it next to impossible to update safeguards that protect the public from pollution and other threats to health and the environment, including climate change. It’s all in line with the “deconstruction of the administrative state” brazenly called for by White House advisor Steve Bannon. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has already started rolling back standards, which will result in worse health and higher costs for Americans. And the White House recently released a budget that calls for slashing the EPA budget—which has already been going down for years—by almost a third.
Republican lawmakers in the 115th Congress have joined in this effort, and are poised to use all the legislative tricks at their disposal to systematically dismantle a wide array of health and environmental safeguards. They started their assault with the Congressional Review Act (CRA), a radical tool that both repeals an existing rule and prevents a federal agency from taking future action that is “substantially the same” as the blocked regulation.
Even worse, the House has passed and a Senate committee is poised to consider broad anti-regulatory measures that would prevent any new protections from seeing the light of day.
Republicans are proposing to topple commonsense federal protections of our air, our water, our food, and more. Many, like energy efficiency standards, also save consumers millions of dollars. The documents below detail some of the threatened federal protections, agencies and programs—and the case for saving them.
What Is the CRA?
Congress has always had the power to create, modify or eliminate rules using the regular legislative process. The CRA provides a more extreme tool by creating a procedure that can be used only to repeal a rule in its entirety. It provides a straight up or down vote on whether the rule should exist, using an expedited timeline, preventing use of normal Senate procedures and requiring only a simple majority to pass a resolution of disapproval.
Ever since President Ronald Reagan established an efficiency standards program under the aegis of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in 1987, national energy efficiency standards for appliances and equipment have saved American homes and businesses nearly $2 trillion on utility bills.
The U.S. Department of Energy recently finalized an updated energy efficiency standard for ceiling fans, which will save energy, reduce consumer energy bills, and help limit global warming, without reducing the ability of this equipment to improve indoor air quality and maintain comfort.
New standards will save the average household up to $140 in energy costs over the life of a dehumidifier and conserve enough electricity nationally over the next three decades to power 3 million U.S. households for a year.
Energy efficiency standards for battery chargers will save energy, reduce consumer and businesses’ energy bills by tens of millions of dollars annually, and help limit global warming, without reducing the ability of this equipment to power our mobile lifestyles and job sites.
Launched in 1992 under President George H.W. Bush, ENERGY STAR has helped American consumers, businesses, and industries save over $430 billion on their energy bills while reducing harmful carbon pollution by 2.7 billion metric tons.
Using Enforcement to Ensure America’s Businesses and Families Reap the Benefits of National Energy Efficiency Standards
The longstanding success of the appliance standards program depends on setting strong standards and providing sufficient enforcement to protect manufacturers and consumers.
Climate and Clean Air
Methane leakage from oil and gas operations is the second largest industrial contributor to climate change in the United States, and poses a particular health threat to the more than 12 million Americans who live within a half-mile of operating sites.
Methane, a potent climate-warming gas, leaking and venting from oil and gas operations creates public health hazards and warms our climate, while wasting valuable natural gas that companies should be delivering for sale to customers.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved several new climate-friendlier alternatives to hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), the super-potent climate pollutants found in air conditioners and refrigerators. The EPA's actions reward manufacturers for developing next-generation alternatives and equipment that will use them.
Economists from 12 federal agencies estimated that society gets at least $41 dollars in benefits of avoided climate change impacts for each ton of carbon pollution cut. This estimate allows us to compare the benefits of limiting carbon pollution with the cost of curbing it—the “social cost of carbon” that society as a whole loses from the damage caused by carbon pollution.
The EPA’s Clean Power Plan rule for existing power plants and carbon pollution standards for newly built power plants represent the most significant step the U.S. has taken to address the urgent threat of climate change.
EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) works with state and federal partners to deliver the benefits of environmental laws to the American public. Without an active and vigorous enforcement program, EPA cannot implement its mission of protecting public health and the environment.
In 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its science-based finding that the buildup of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere endangers public health and welfare. The “Endangerment Finding” reflects the overwhelming scientific evidence on the causes and impacts of climate change.
Critical Federal Agencies
Since its creation in 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proven to be a health-protection agency—providing us with clean air, water and lands. Here is an overview of some of EPA's most essential duties.
The DOI manages over 500 million acres of land owned by the American people which includes national parks, wildlife refuges, monuments, and recreation areas. It’s responsible for ensuring that Americans can enjoy their natural heritage—wildlife, wild lands, oceans, and natural resources—for generations to come.
The DOE leads efforts to develop the U.S. clean energy sector—saving businesses and families across the United States billions of dollars and reducing pollution. The agency's critical mission also includes strengthening, transforming, and improving energy infrastructure so that consumers have access to reliable, secure, and clean sources of energy.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is America’s environmental intelligence agency. Its products and services are used to protect the lives and property of millions of people along our coasts and affect an estimated one-third of the country’s gross domestic product.