Regulation buster Trump takes aim at the EPA

The president-elect has made no secret of his disdain for the ambitious agenda pursued by the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Environmental protection, what they do is a disgrace; every week they come out with new regulations,” he told Fox News Sunday last year.

“Who’s going to protect the environment?” asked host Chris Wallace.

“We’ll be fine with the environment,” Trump replied. “We can leave a little bit, but you can’t destroy businesses.”

Trump has begun mapping out his new environmental policy with a transition team that shares his deregulatory zeal. He is reportedly relying on Myron Ebell, director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute, to help him flesh out his transition plan for the EPA.

Trump has also promised to eliminate regulations on oil and gas exploration to boost development of fossil fuels and help spur the economy. To help him implement that policy, he is reportedly considering naming Forrest Lucas, the 74-year-old co-founder of oil products company Lucas Oil, as his interior secretary.

That agency has broad purview over energy policy, including oversight of offshore drilling, fracking regulations, protections for endangered species and supervision of national parks and wildlife refuges.

Obama’s critics have targeted a wide range of environmental regulations, but one of the most contentious is the Clean Power Plan, which sets state-by-state caps on greenhouse gas emissions for power plants burning fossil fuels.

Those regulations have helped spur investment in a range of companies that are developing clean energy technologies. A rollback of the Clean Power Plan could pose a major risk to those companies, according to Colin Rusch, an analyst who follows the sector at Oppenheimer Equity Research.

The Obama administration has defended its environmental policy by pointing to the economic benefits of promoting clean energy industries and technological development.

“From catalytic converters to smoke-stack scrubbers, America has a legacy of innovating the world’s leading environmental technologies – accounting for more than 1.5 million jobs and $44 billion in exports in 2008 alone,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told a Washington, D.C., conference in 2014. “That’s more than other big sectors like plastics and rubber products.”

Trump has broad support in the Republican-controlled Congress for a major rollback of the Obama administration’s environmental agenda.

But not all of his party supports the idea of dismantling the EPA. The list includes William D. Ruckelshaus, EPA administrator under Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Ronald Reagan, and William K. Reilly, the agency’s administrator under President George H.W. Bush.

“Donald Trump has shown a profound ignorance of science and of the public health issues embodied in our environmental laws,” the two said in a statement this summer. “He hasn’t a clue about Republicans’ historic contributions to science-driven environmental policy.”

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