The Trump Administration’s attempts to rollback decades of environmental, workplace, and safety protections will be met with some RESISTANCE. The law of the land requires that any executive agency seeking to change any existing regulation has to invite and review public comments. At least in this setting, citizen voices have something approaching the same weight as that of paid lobbyists. At IEB we’re tracking as many of these proposed rollbacks as possible so that our members can make their voices heard. Please read the background information in the links below and comment (and comment often) to protect the country!
Waters of the U.S. Rule Redefinition
Deadline: September 27, 2017
This is the first step in the two-step process to redefine waters of the U.S by rescinding the May 2015 Clean Water Rule, (also known as the Waters of the U.S. rule, or WOTUS). Comment on the docket by September 27th to tell the EPA that streams and wetlands are critical to ensuring clean and safe drinking water for millions of Americans; we must keep the WOTUS rule.
WOTUS asserts federal power over ponds, headwaters, wetlands and other water bodies that feed into larger water areas. Reversing this rule will revert to the previous rule, which gave the EPA the authority to regulate “navigable water only,” and the EPA’s authority to regulate headwaters was legally confusing. Reverting to the old water rule would create ambiguity and strip out needed protections for the streams that feed drinking water sources. If abolished, we could be drinking polluted water: 60% of the streams and wetlands in the lower 48 states would lose pollution protection. Wetlands have ecological importance, including removing harmful pollution from water. Wetlands also store water, important during times of drought, and soak up runoff and floodwaters and are vital for wildlife.
According to the Audubon Society, “Clean Water Act (of 2015) has been quite successful cleaning up rivers, like the infamous Cuyahoga “River that Caught Fire” in Ohio from decades of urban and industrial pollution. In total, WOTUS placed 117 million people’s drinking water sources solidly under EPA jurisdiction—that’s about a third of the country’s population.
(Thanks to IEB member Sarah for preparing the WOTUS rule-making summary!)
Revisiting Fuel Economy Standards
Deadline: October 5, 2017
There are two dockets open for comment: one for the EPA and another for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Comment on these dockets by October 5th to tell the EPA and NHTSA that tough standards for fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions make our country stronger and healthier.
In March 2017, the Trump Administration expressed its intention to roll back fuel standards for cars and light trucks in the United States. Specifically, they intend to scrap the strengthened standards that were put in place after the car company bankruptcies following the financial crisis.
The toughened standards put in place by the Obama administration double down on the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) rules written into law in the ‘70s. By holding gas-fueled vehicles to a higher standard, the regulations offer a graceful means of improving air quality and ushering in a future powered by electric vehicles.
“Revisiting” these GHG emissions and fuel efficiency standards is a dangerous step backwards. The following talking points explain why.
- A recent survey indicates that 90% of Americans want automakers to improve fuel efficiency. The CAFE standards save you money by allowing you to drive further before having to shell out to refuel. Loosening the standards would impact lower-income families particularly harshly, as a higher proportion of these families’ household expenditures go towards transportation costs.
- Other countries are moving towards higher fuel efficiency standards and electric vehicles. By remaining at a 20th century level of motor vehicle technology, we risk the competitiveness of the American auto industry, which accounts for 3.5% of US GDP. Strengthened CAFE standards help our automakers keep pace with the rest of the world, and thus help secure American jobs.
- Passenger vehicles are the primary sources of pollution that lead to respiratory diseases, cancers, and increased strain on our teetering health care system. Each year, 30,000 people die premature deaths that are squarely attributable to particulate matter emissions. These are lives that can be saved by strengthened CAFE standards.