The Trump Administration Is Reversing Nearly 100 Environmental Rules. Here’s the Full List.

Elroy Mariano

Air pollution and emissions

Completed

1.

Weakened Obama-era fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards for passenger cars and light trucks.

2.

Revoked California’s ability to set stricter tailpipe emissions standards than the federal government.

3.

Withdrew the legal justification for an Obama-era rule that limited mercury emissions from coal power plants.

4.

Replaced the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which would have set strict limits on carbon emissions from coal- and gas-fired power plants, with a new version that would let states set their own rules.

5.

Canceled a requirement for oil and gas companies to report methane emissions.

6.

Revised and partially repealed an Obama-era rule limiting methane emissions on public lands, including intentional venting and flaring from drilling operations. A federal court struck down the revision in July 2020, calling the Trump administration’s reasoning “wholly inadequate” and mandating enforcement of the original rule. However, the Obama-era rule was later partially struck down in a separate court case, during which the Trump administration declined to defend it.

7.

Withdrew a Clinton-era rule designed to limit toxic emissions from major industrial polluters, and later proposed codifying the looser standards.

8.

Revised a program designed to safeguard communities from increases in pollution from new power plants to make it easier for facilities to avoid emissions regulations.

9.

Amended rules that govern how refineries monitor pollution in surrounding communities.

10.

Weakened an Obama-era rule meant to reduce air pollution in national parks and wilderness areas.

11.

Weakened oversight of some state plans for reducing air pollution in national parks.

12.

Relaxed air pollution regulations for a handful of plants that burn waste coal for electricity.

13.

Repealed rules meant to reduce leaking and venting of powerful greenhouse gases known as hydrofluorocarbons from large refrigeration and air conditioning systems.

14.

Directed agencies to stop using an Obama-era calculation of the social cost of carbon, which rulemakers used to estimate the long-term economic benefits of reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

15.

Withdrew guidance directing federal agencies to include greenhouse gas emissions in environmental reviews. But several district courts have ruled that emissions must be included in such reviews.


Executive Order; Council on Environmental Quality

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16.

Revoked an Obama executive order that set a goal of cutting the federal government’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent over 10 years.

17.

Repealed a requirement that state and regional authorities track tailpipe emissions from vehicles on federal highways.

18.

Lifted a summertime ban on the use of E15, a gasoline blend made of 15 percent ethanol. (Burning gasoline with a higher concentration of ethanol in hot conditions increases smog.)

19.

Changed rules to allow states and the E.P.A. to take longer to develop and approve plans aimed at cutting methane emissions from existing landfills.

20.

Withdrew a proposed rule aimed at reducing pollutants, including air pollution, at sewage treatment plants.

21.

Relaxed some Obama-era requirements for companies to monitor and repair leaks at oil and gas facilities, including exempting certain low-production wells – a significant source of methane emissions – from the requirements altogether. (Other leak regulatons were eliminated.)

In progress

22.

Eliminated Obama-era methane emissions standards for oil and gas facilities and narrowed standards limiting the release of other polluting chemicals known as “volatile organic compounds” to only certain facilities. A federal court temporarily halted the rollback from going into effect after environmental groups and several states filed suit.

23.

Submitted notice of intent to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement. (The process of withdrawing cannot be completed until November 4, 2020.)

24.

Proposed revisions to standards for carbon dioxide emissions from new, modified and reconstructed coal power plants, eliminating Obama-era restrictions that, in effect, required them to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions.

25.

Began a review of emissions rules for power plant start-ups, shutdowns and malfunctions. One outcome of that review: In February 2020, E.P.A. reversed a requirement that Texas follow emissions rules during certain malfunction events.

26.

Proposed a rule limiting the ability of individuals and communities to challenge E.P.A.-issued pollution permits before a panel of agency judges.

Drilling and extraction

Completed

27.

Made significant cuts to the borders of two national monuments in Utah and recommended border and resource-management changes to several more.


Presidential Proclamation; Interior Department

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28.

Lifted an Obama-era freeze on new coal leases on public lands. In April 2019, a judge ruled that the Interior Department could not begin selling new leases without completing an environmental review. In February 2020, the agency published an assessment that concluded restarting federal coal leasing would have little environmental impact.

29.

Finalized a plan to open up part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska for oil and gas development, a move that overturns six decades of protections for the largest remaining stretch of wilderness in the United States.

30.

Approved construction of the Dakota Access pipeline, less than a mile from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. (The Obama administration had halted the project, with the Army Corps of Engineers saying it would explore alternative routes.) The pipeline is embroiled in a lengthy legal battle, but has been allowed to continue operating by the Army Corps of Engineers even though a federal court reversed the Corps’ decision to allow the pipeline to run along its current path.

31.

Rescinded water pollution regulations for fracking on federal and Indian lands.

32.

Scrapped a proposed rule that required mines to prove they could pay to clean up future pollution.

33.

Withdrew a requirement that Gulf oil rig owners prove they can cover the costs of removing rigs once they stop producing.

34.

Moved the permitting process for certain projects that cross international borders, such as oil pipelines, to the office of the president from the State Department, exempting them from environmental review.

35.

Changed how the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission considers the indirect effects of greenhouse gas emissions in environmental reviews of pipelines.

36.

Revoked an Obama-era executive order designed to preserve ocean, coastal and Great Lakes waters in favor of a policy focused on energy production and economic growth.

37.

Loosened offshore drilling safety regulations implemented by the Obama after following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill, including reduced testing requirements for blowout prevention systems.

In progress

38.

Proposed opening most of America’s coastal waters to offshore oil and gas drilling, but delayed the plan after a federal judge in 2019 ruled that reversing a ban on drilling in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans was unlawful. Ahead of the 2020 election, Mr. Trump announced he would exempt from drilling coastal areas around Florida, a crucial battleground state, Georgia and South Carolina.

39.

Repealed an Obama-era rule governing royalties for oil, gas and coal leases on federal lands, which replaced a 1980s rule that critics said allowed companies to underpay the federal government. A federal judge struck down the Trump administration’s repeal, but another court froze the original rule pending litigation.

40.

Proposed easing the approval process for oil and gas drilling in national forests by curbing the power of the Forest Service to review and approve leases, among other changes.

41.

Withdrew proposed restrictions on mining in Bristol Bay, Alaska, despite concerns over environmental impacts on salmon habitat, including a prominent fishery. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has so far denied a permit for a proposed project, known as the Pebble Mine, noting it “could have substantial environmental impacts,” but left the door open for a revised plan.

42.

Proposed revising regulations on offshore oil and gas exploration by floating vessels in the Arctic that were developed after a 2013 accident. The Interior Department previously said it was “considering full rescission or revision of this rule.”

43.

Proposed opening more land for drilling in the Alaska National Petroleum Reserve, a vast swath of public land on the Arctic Ocean. The Obama administration had designated about half of the reserve as a conservation area.

44.

Finalized a plan to allow logging and road construction in Tongass National Forest, Alaska, by exempting the area from a Clinton-era policy known as the roadless rule, which applied to much of the national forest system.

45.

Approved the Keystone XL pipeline rejected by President Barack Obama, but a federal judge blocked the project from going forward without an adequate environmental review process. The Supreme Court in July 2020 upheld that ruling, further delaying construction of the pipeline.

46.

Approved the use of seismic air guns for gas and oil exploration in the Atlantic Ocean. The Obama administration had denied permits for such surveys, which can kill marine life and disrupt fisheries. However, the Trump administration’s permits to allow seismic surveys expired following a protracted lawsuit, ending the possibility of seismic air gun surveys in the Atlantic in the near term. Companies would need to restart the months-long permitting process.


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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Infrastructure and planning

Completed

47.

Weakened the National Environmental Policy Act, one of the country’s most significant environmental laws, in order to expedite the approval of public infrastructure projects, such as roads, pipelines and telecommunications networks. The new rules shorten the time frame for completing environmental studies, limit the types of projects subject to review, and no longer require federal agencies to account for a project’s cumulative effects on the environment, such as climate change.

48.

Revoked Obama-era flood standards for federal infrastructure projects that required the government to account for sea level rise and other climate change effects.

49.

Relaxed the environmental review process for federal infrastructure projects.

50.

Overturned an Obama-era guidance that ended U.S. government financing for new coal plants overseas except in rare circumstances.

51.

Revoked a directive for federal agencies to minimize impacts on water, wildlife, land and other natural resources when approving development projects.

52.

Revoked an Obama executive order promoting climate resilience in the northern Bering Sea region of Alaska, which withdrew local waters from oil and gas leasing and established a tribal advisory council to consult on local environmental issues.

53.

Reversed an update to the Bureau of Land Management’s public land-use planning process.

54.

Withdrew an Obama-era order to consider climate change in the management of natural resources in national parks.

55.

Restricted most Interior Department environmental studies to one year in length and a maximum of 150 pages, citing a need to reduce paperwork.

56.

Withdrew a number of Obama-era Interior Department climate change and conservation policies that the agency said could “burden the development or utilization of domestically produced energy resources.”

57.

Eliminated the use of an Obama-era planning system designed to minimize harm from oil and gas activity on sensitive landscapes, such as national parks.

58.

Withdrew Obama-era policies designed to maintain or, ideally, improve natural resources affected by federal projects.

In progress

59.

Proposed plans to speed up the environmental review process for Forest Service projects.

Animals

Completed

60.

Changed the way the Endangered Species Act is applied, making it more difficult to protect wildlife from long-term threats posed by climate change.


Interior Department; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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61.

Ended the automatic application of full protections for ‘threatened’ plants and animals, the classification one step below ‘endangered’ in the Endangered Species Act.

62.

Relaxed environmental protections for salmon and smelt in California’s Central Valley in order to free up water for farmers.

63.

Overturned a ban on the use of lead ammunition and fishing tackle on federal lands.

64.

Overturned a ban on the hunting of predators in Alaskan wildlife refuges.

65.

Reversed an Obama-era rule that barred using bait, such as grease-soaked doughnuts, to lure and kill grizzly bears, among other sport hunting practices that many people consider extreme, on some public lands in Alaska.

66.

Amended fishing regulations to loosen restrictions on the harvest of a number of species.


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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67.

Removed restrictions on commercial fishing in a protected marine preserve southeast of Cape Cod that is home to rare corals and a number of endangered sea animals. The Trump administration has suggested changing the management or size of two other marine protected areas in the Pacific Ocean.


Executive Order; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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68.

Proposed revising limits on the number of endangered marine mammals and sea turtles that can be unintentionally killed or injured with sword-fishing nets on the West Coast. (The Obama-era rules were initially withdrawn by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, but were later finalized following a court order. The agency has said it plans to revise the limits.)


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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69.

Loosened fishing restrictions intended to reduce bycatch of Atlantic Bluefin Tuna. Nonprofits have filed a lawsuit challenging the rollback.


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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70.

Overturned a ban on using parts of migratory birds in handicrafts made by Alaskan Natives.

In progress

71.

Proposed weakening critical habitat protections under the Endangered Species Act by making it easier to exclude certain areas, including for public-works projects, such as schools and hospitals, and for public lands leased to non-government businesses.

72.

Opened nine million acres of Western land to oil and gas drilling by weakening habitat protections for the sage grouse, an imperiled bird. The Idaho District Court temporarily blocked the measure. The Montana District Court also invalidated the directive, nullifying 440 oil and gas leases, but the ruling is on hold pending appeal.

Water pollution

Completed

73.

Scaled back pollution protections for certain tributaries and wetlands that were regulated under the Clean Water Act by the Obama administration. (A federal judge in Colorado halted implementation of the rule within the state, but it is in effect elsewhere.)

74.

Revoked a rule that prevented coal companies from dumping mining debris into local streams.

75.

Weakened a rule that aimed to limit toxic discharge from power plants into public waterways.

76.

Weakened a portion of the Clean Water Act to make it easier for federal agencies to issue permits for federal projects over state objections if the projects don’t meet local water quality standards, including for pipelines and other fossil fuel facilities.

77.

Extended the lifespan of unlined coal ash holding areas, which can spill their contents because they lack a protective underlay.

78.

Withdrew a proposed rule requiring groundwater protections for certain uranium mines. Recently, the administration’s Nuclear Fuel Working Group proposed opening up 1,500 acres outside the Grand Canyon to nuclear production.

In progress

79.

Proposed doubling the time allowed for utilities to remove lead pipes from water systems with high levels of lead.

80.

Attempted to weaken federal rules regulating the disposal and storage of coal ash waste from power plants, but a court determined the original rules were already insufficient to protect the environment. The E.P.A. then proposed a new rule that would allow unlined coal ash ponds, previously deemed unsafe, to continue operating.

81.

Proposed a regulation limiting the scope of an Obama-era rule under which companies had to prove that large deposits of recycled coal ash would not harm the environment.

Toxic substances and safety

Completed

82.

Rejected a proposed ban on chlorpyrifos, a pesticide linked to developmental disabilities in children. In 2020, the E.P.A. also rejected its own earlier finding that the pesticide can cause serious health problems. (Several states have banned use of the pesticide and its main manufacturer said it would stop producing the product because of shrinking demand.)

83.

Narrowed the scope of a 2016 law mandating safety assessments for potentially toxic chemicals like dry-cleaning solvents. The updated rules allowed the E.P.A. to exclude some chemical uses and types of exposure in the review process. In November 2019, a court of appeals ruled the agency must widen its scope to consider full exposure risks, but watchdog groups say the agency has not done so in some assessments.

84.

Reversed an Obama-era rule that required braking system upgrades for “high hazard” trains hauling flammable liquids like oil and ethanol.

85.

Changed safety rules to allow for rail transport of highly flammable liquefied natural gas.

86.

Removed copper filter cake, an electronics manufacturing byproduct comprised of heavy metals, from the “hazardous waste” list.

87.

Rolled back most of the requirements of a 2017 rule aimed at improving safety at sites that use hazardous chemicals that was instituted after a chemical plant exploded in Texas.

In progress

88.

Proposed limiting pesticide application buffer zones that are intended to protect farmworkers and bystanders from accidental exposure.

89.

Announced a review of an Obama-era rule lowering coal dust limits in mines. The head of the Mine Safety and Health Administration said there were no immediate plans to change the dust limit but has extended a public comment period until 2022.

Other

Completed

90.

Repealed an Obama-era regulation that would have nearly doubled the number of light bulbs subject to energy-efficiency standards starting in January 2020. The Energy Department also blocked the next phase of efficiency standards for general-purpose bulbs already subject to regulation.

91.

Changed a 25-year-old policy to allow coastal replenishment projects to use sand from protected ecosystems.

92.

Limited funding of environmental and community development projects through corporate settlements of federal lawsuits.

93.

Stopped payments to the Green Climate Fund, a United Nations program to help poorer countries reduce carbon emissions.

94.

Reversed restrictions on the sale of plastic water bottles in national parks desgined to cut down on litter, despite a Park Service report that the effort worked.

In progress

95.

Proposed limiting the studies used by the E.P.A. for rulemaking to only those that make data publicly available. (Scientists widely criticized the proposal, saying it would effectively block the agency from considering landmark research that relies on confidential health data.)

96.

Proposed changes to the way cost-benefit analyses are conducted under the Clean Air Act. Similar rules for the Clean Water Act and other environmental statutes are in development.

97.

Proposed freezing efficiency standards for residential furnaces and commercial water heaters designed to reduce energy use.

98.

Created a product category that would allow some dishwashers to be exempt from energy efficiency standards.

99.

Initially withdrew, and then delayed, a proposed rule that would inform car owners about fuel-efficient replacement tires.

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