Monday, July 31, 2017

How Congress Is Cementing Trump's Anti-Climate Orders into Law

These efforts are mostly flying under the radar, but they could short-circuit lawsuits and make it harder to restore environmental protections.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, is pushing legislation that would require Congressional approval for federal coal lease moratoriums. It's one example of how lawmakers are trying to write President Trump's executive orders into law. (Credit: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty) Click to Enlarge.
President Donald Trump marvels at his own velocity when he boasts about dismantling the Obama climate legacy.  "I have been moving at record pace to cancel these regulations and to eliminate the barriers to domestic energy production, like never before," he said at a recent White House event.

But while Trump focuses on speed, his allies in Congress appear increasingly concerned about the durability of the president's fossil fuel directives.

In recent weeks they have advanced a handful of legislative measures that echo and extend various presidential orders meant to boost coal, oil, and gas production and set aside consideration of climate change.

These moves may seem redundant, but they could provide bulletproof armor during future challenges to Trump's agenda.

"They are ... covering their bases by trying to legislate the rolling back of these safeguards because the process to repeal, undo or rewrite a regulation is as lengthy as the public process that helped establish the standard in the first place," explained Melinda Pierce, chief lobbyist for the Sierra Club.  "And, of course, any attempt to roll back environmental or public health standards can and will be challenged in court."

"The Trump administration is attacking every environmental and health protection we have," said Sara Jordan, legislative representative for the League of Conservation Voters.  "If these legislative proposals get passed, it will make it that much harder for the next administration to restore environmental protections."

That's why Congressional Republicans are racing to write his instructions into law.

"We need to put the legislative stamp of approval on what the Trump administration is doing," said Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.) during a recent debate on the House floor.

The House already has voted to fast-track Trump's withdrawal of a clean water rule and to streamline future environmental reviews over cross-border pipelines like Keystone XL.  Now, GOP members are pushing forward legislation to bolster Trump's revival of federal coal leasing, and to bar government regulatory agencies from considering the future damages caused by greenhouse gas pollution.

Read more at How Congress Is Cementing Trump's Anti-Climate Orders into Law

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