Donald Trump

Trump, House Republicans Target EPA, Energy, Interior for Regulatory Cuts

Trump plans to use executive orders to hack away at federal regulations, but he'll need congressional help to make lasting reforms.

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President Donald Trump will announce plans to build a wall on Wednesday, but the things his administration are trying to tear down might end up being more important.

Andrew Milligan/ZUMA Press/Newscom

It's no secret that Trump wants to hack away at the federal regulatory state—during the campaign, he promised to repeal two regulations for every new one approved; on Monday, during a meeting with several business executives, Trump promised to cut 75 percent of all federal regulations, "and maybe more."

Those claims seem more like campaign trail promises and typical Trump bluster than achievable goals, but give Trump credit for getting straight to work on the issue.

Axios, citing an unnamed "senior transition source," reported Wednesday that Trump plans a deconstructing of the regulatory state that will target the Environmental Protection Agency and the departments of Education, Energy, and Interior during his first 100 days in office.

"President Trump plans to attack the regulatory state from every angle," the source told Axios. "The government has been captured by elites, which gets to the very core of what animates the president."

Citing a different source, the same report says Trump plans to undermine the regulatory powers of various federal agencies by executive order, rather than going through Congress in an effort to dismantle the agencies' authority.

If true, that would mean Trump could move more quickly to curtail the EPA and other agencies that he sees as holding back businesses and the economy as a whole. On the other hand, using executive orders to implement his agenda of deregulation would mean the next president could undo many of those changes—in the same way that Trump is now unwinding some of President Barack Obama's "pen and phone" policies.

Trump's inclination to act quickly certainly is understandable, but the way to reform America's regulatory state permanently, as I've written before, will require working with Congress.

On that front, there might be more good news.

In an op-ed published Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) outlined a series of regulatory reforms that take aim at the federal bureaucracy.

The first step, McCarthy says, is passage of the REINS Act, which would require any new regulations that cost $100 million or more to be approved by Congress before taking effect. As I wrote last week, the REINS Act would only apply to about 3 percent of all federal regulations, but it would be a meaningful reform because it gives Congress a way to check executive rules with the potential to be particularly harmful.

House Republicans also plan to pass the Regulatory Accountability Act, which would undermine the so-called "Chevron deference" within the legal system. The Chevron doctrine grants federal agencies wide leeway when challenged in court, essentially instructing judges to defer to an agency's own interpretation when determining whether a rule is necessary or proper.

McCarthy's plans for the House seem to follow Trump's outline. The majority leader says the House will vote to repeal the Department of the Interior's Stream Protection Rule, which has limited access to the nation's coal supply, and will trim the Obama administration's methane regulations that limit oil and gas production. Other federal rules that limit energy production, like the Securities and Exchange Commission's disclosure rules for American drilling firms, will also be axed, McCarthy writes.

There are still many, many reasons to worry about Trump's presidency, but regulatory reform could be a silver lining.

NEXT: Intern at Reason in Summer 2017!

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  1. As we learned last week, the REINS Act isn’t necessarily anti-science…

    1. Time for a crackdown on genetic engineering at both the White House and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting:

      Sesame Street has been overrun by CRISPR Critters like Elmo and the Cookie Monster, and Ab FAb clones have invaded the West Wing

      http://vvattsupwiththat.blogsp…..e-for.html

  2. I’m wondering what they’re going to do with the Tier 4F regs on diesel engines and OSHA’s new silica rule.

    1. Agreed. Also anxious to see if they dismantle FSMA and FDA’s proposed label changes – massive costs with no tangible benefit.

      1. I’m a little too optimistic about what could happen at the FDA.

    2. Tier 4f elimination would be a huge savings. Get rid of hours of service regs and allow cheaper permits for over weight and trucking gets more competitive and possibly able to pay more drivers.

      While we’re at it:
      Eliminate the EPA altogether and let private property rights own the discussion.

      Shut down the Dept of Education in favor of states control and down to the counties.

      Eliminate the :
      Dept of energy, HSA, Housing and urban dev., NEA, I know I am missing some softballs here.

      Allow urban projects in disrepair to be demolished and force those on the dole to live in one part of town instead of spreading projects all over town and spreading crime.
      Sell the previously destroyed land to private developers.

      1. Housing and urban dev

        You just want to see a black man put out of a job.

        1. I would rather see a brain surgeon go back to work.

          1. Someone floated putting him in charge of the DoAg, which I quite like. Tetrahedral silos will Make America Grain Again.

      2. I don’t think spreading projects all over town was about spreading crime, though no doubt the proggies see it as icing. Primarily it is about driving down property values; destroying wealth.

        What is funny to me was hearing a local Obama voter cursing HUD when they added some houses in his exclusive neighborhood.

        1. I don’t think spreading projects all over town was about spreading crime

          Actually, it kind of was. One of the goals was to reduce crime, based upon the correlation between population density and crime rate. So yes, in some real sense, spreading crime around was one of the goals; but it was also a goal to reduce the victimization of individuals living in the projects by their own neighbors. However, correlation is not causation. People commit crimes for various reasons and while population density may be an enabling factor, it is not a causal one. The real question (at least, from a sociological perspective) that needs to be asked is, if the desired outcome has occurred, has it been because of a reduction in overall crime or because of a substitution of victims?

  3. There was word about a law permitting Congress to roll back regulations implemented in the last 60/90/? days of a Presidency. I haven’t heard anything recently about that.

    1. That could be called the Elections Have Consequences Act.

    2. Congressional review act or midnight rules relief act
      I am not seeing any updates about its prgress in the senate. It oassed the gouse

  4. To tell you how out of it I am, I just learned yesterday what a MAGA hat is. I reading that term on the internets, and never put 2 & 2 together.

    1. I think it’s OK if they are proud of their sexuality, I just don’t know why they feel like they have to announce it to everyone.

      1. I assumed they were all fucked in the head.

      2. Dammit, Sug, I just spewed all over my monitor.

        1. Certainly casts “Get on the MAGA train” into a new light.

    2. /slap!

  5. Simple. Use the “pen and phone” to suspend these activities, then spend the rest of his time in office making it permanent.

    HAHA Who am I kidding? Congress won’t work with him on one f*cking thing.

  6. It isnt a silver lining. It’s the crown jewel.

    1. I thought the Wall was the crown jewel.

    2. The crown jewel indeed. Executive branch agencies are altogether an abomination, and we should have stuck with the first SCOTUS decision that they were an unconstitutional delegation of authority. 99% of the mess we’re in is due to the unaccountable and unelected bureaucracy running amok with the rule-making the spineless shitweasels in Congress ceded to them in an attempt to dodge any responsibility for the making of unpopular laws, covered in some nonsense about the need for technocrats and trusted scientific experts to make these sorts of decisions us mere mortals weren’t qualified to make. That’s pretty much the definition of the Top. Men. theory of government and nobody voted for that shit.

      1. Hell Jerry. I might as well hang it up today. No one is going to top that comment for the rest of the day.

      2. Agree with Suthen.

  7. Wow was that some grudging praise.

    1. If Trump raises the dead and heals the sick, then jumps up and declares himself a strict constitutionalist, balances the budget, rolls back the fedgov by 70% that is all he is ever going to get – grudging praise.

      He doesnt do the correct virtue signaling and just isnt the right kind of person.

      1. I think there’s something to be said about questioning his seriousness. He is the guy who suggested blacks would turn out 90% for him. You don’t say that sort of thing unless you’re being glib or you’re totally disconnected.

        That said, he deserves credit where it’s due, and this looks very credible.

        1. He is the guy who suggested blacks would turn out 90% for him. You don’t say that sort of thing unless you’re being glib or you’re totally disconnected.

          Usually with Trump, it’s hard to separate what he literally means from the hyperbole. That statement, however, was rather easy.

      2. If Trump raises the dead and heals the sick, then jumps up and declares himself a strict constitutionalist, balances the budget, rolls back the fedgov by 70% that is all he is ever going to get – grudging praise.

        No, he’ll get blamed for overpopulation.

  8. I don’t think any President in my lifetime has gotten a better start on the libertarian moment than Trump.

    I have no doubt at all that he will do things that are anti-libertarian, but so far on the domestic policy front he has hardly put a foot wrong, as far as I can tell. I’m not thrilled about some of his appointments, but even on that front, his cabinet has a lot of potential to be a libertarian dream team.

    Maybe articles on things he does that move the needle in the right direction could lose the “to be sure” signalling?

    1. Every time he does something stupid, I pause for a moment of reflection and think how much Hillary (or an Obama third term) would have been for the same matter. Trump is somewhat worse than Hillary would have been on trade and immigration, but far far better on regulations and at least freshening the breeze in the DC swamp. Net total gain.

      And the icing on the cake is all the proggies wailing and gnashing of teeth. Stupid marches for women’s rights, as if Hillary was any better the way she blamed Bill’s victims of lying. peaceniks somehow forgetting what a warhawk Hillary was and is and would have been.

    2. He seems 50% very positive and refreshing and 50% very much spend happy and military happy.
      I guess if he slows the train for while like Thacher did, he can be overall very good.

      He certainly does not sound like a good representative of free market capitalism, which I fear will ultimately be the scapegoat if he fails to help the economy drastically.

      I find it hilarious that sales of “1984” have skyrocketed.
      Wouldn’t it be hilarious if disphit leftists learned about the perils of massive government out of spite for trump?

      Going to be interesting how they conflate trumps heavy handedness with fascism but cannot make the parallel with Obama’s psychosis as well as the rest of Washington.

    3. I think it is wise to consider net effects. If Trump cuts back on regs by 10% but goes full retard on police militarization, unconstitutional surveillance and trade protectionism, is that a net win for Libertarians? I understand the excitement, but it’s way too early to be enthused about any of this. I’ll take any net gain for liberty, but a net loss, even a small one, inches us ever closer to authoritarian rule.

      1. Cuts down regulatory burdens and lowers corporate tax rate, but massive dislocates international trade. Not really clear whether there’s a net benefit.

        1. Depends entirely on the degree, of both. Just gotta wait and see.

      2. You are correct sir. An ounce of freedom lost due to a pound of fear injected is way too much.

        Let’s get down to what really matters. Our most socialist crap, entitlements, is to be untouched. The FED, whose central planning policies and implied bailouts would appear to be safe with his treasury pick. And profligate military spending and debt explosion seems to be right on track with his Navy ship plans and stimulus announcements.

        He sound absolutely the same, long term in my eyes. It is just nice to here someone tell the bureaucrats to fuck off.

        1. Our most socialist crap, entitlements, is to be untouched.

          You missed the part where he proposed expanding the EIC because poor single mothers are struggling to make it on the meager welfare benefits they’re getting now? And the part where all the usual suspects in the GOP applauded the idea of expanding welfare because it’s very “pro-family”?

        2. All legit points.

          None of which offsets the good start he has gotten on the Total Administrative State.

          Will he make some things worse? Probably. But, anything that requires legislation (like expanding the military) still has to go through Congress. I’m looking at what he’s done 3.5 days, and it mostly looks pretty good to me. Whataboutism can be a fallacy, regardless of which team deploys it.

      3. I think the fear of Trump going full retard on protectionism is an overblown fear. I expect what he will do is a lot of blustery bluster that will cause other countries to reconsider their protectionist policies and end up somewhere in the middle. As it is our trade policies do not place priority on American interests. I think that is mostly what he aims to fix.

        I could be wrong, but I don’t think so.

        1. Hoover signed the (?) Smoot-Hawley tariff bill in spite of his own misgivings and tons of economists warnings, much like CA guv Jerry Brown signing the minimum wage law in spite of his own misgivings. As much as I hope Congress won’t give in, they were spineless with Obama. Do they hate an outsider like Trump enough, and are Trump’s polling numbers low enough, that they will buck him on tariffs and trade in general? I hope, but do not expect.

          1. My suspicions about his intentions is in no way indicative of my expectations of the outcome. I am just going to have to wait and see.

            Spineless indeed. It would be nice to see congress reassert itself but looking at the rolls there does dampen my hopes.

      4. I think it is wise to consider net effects. If Trump cuts back on regs by 10% but goes full retard on police militarization, unconstitutional surveillance and trade protectionism, is that a net win for Libertarians? I understand the excitement, but it’s way too early to be enthused about any of this.

        There will be time to bitch about that stuff when it happens.

        If we cared about net effects then every article criticizing some stupid thing he says or does must also stop and say “to be sure” we must also wait and see if he makes good on his positive promises before dismissing him as a blight on history or whatever. Don’t recall seeing a whole lot of that.

  9. Reason should be celebrating.

    It should be fucken music to their ears.

    No?

    1. “The Wrong Person is Doing It” ™.

    2. How many cocktail invites do you think they are going to get from the Trump administration?

  10. All that that caterwauling about “costs” is just an act. Those evul businesses can just dip into their bottomless cash stockpiles.

    What’s a few billion dollars, compared to the .0002% likelihood of preventing a case of asthma?

  11. We could start by returning any money taken from VW which did not go directly to car owners, and dropping all charges against individual employees.

    1. VW is going to have to pay for 1,000s of electric vehicles and natural gas vehicles given in the form of subsidies to every state. The end result will be a bunch of city buses being purchased by wasteful city transit agencies. Good job D.C.

    2. VW is buying back my brother’s car this year at more than double what it’s really worth. He’ll end up paying next to nothing for a a new GTI when he trades in his diesel Jetta. Meanwhile, he’s driving the hell out of the thing and getting 50 mpg.

  12. Maybe articles on things he does that move the needle in the right direction could lose the “to be sure” signalling?

    Don’t expect it from Boehm.

    1. I dunno, Brooksie. La Boheme seems to me like a much, much more competent Mike Riggs (Remember that disaster of an AE? I didn’t think he could be topped, until Robby Horses was hired).

      I say keep him.

  13. It’s no secret that Trump wants to hack away at the federal regulatory state

    Because Reason kept mentioning it during the campaign…? Ha, of course not! Trump was no different from Hillary, remember? Just a huge threat to liberty. “Kelo!!!”

    /I told you

    1. Welch repeatedly said Hitlery was less bad.

      1. In what context? re: Putin? Welch is very down on Putin and probably believes Hillary would be less lenient toward Russia.

        1. *cough* Uranium Sales *cough*

        2. We would be gearing up for enforcing a no-fly zone over Syria and bracing for countless more americans coming home in bags or in wheelchairs.

          I would be out in the yard burying my guns. The idiot journalists that ignored comments about reasonable restrictions on all civil liberties and crushing news organizations that have no right to exist would soon be off to one of her camps for adults. Either that or getting fitted with a saddle.

          Hillary Clinton was going to make tin-pot Obama look like a piker. We really dodged a bullet.

          I really don’t understand the closet pinkos desire for tyranny. I guess they only think the jackboot will only land on the people they hate.

          1. I really don’t understand the closet pinkos desire for tyranny. I guess they only think the jackboot will only land on the people they hate.

            Said in the context of defending enthusiasm for Trump, this seems astonishingly self-unaware.

            1. I am not seeing any defending of enthusiasm for Trump. I see condemning of Clinton based on the awful things she and her campaign said they were going to do.

              Hillary is horrible =/= Trump is great

      2. I don’t recall Welch ever taking that stance. You must be thinking of Penn Gillette.

        1. Repeatedly, on this very blog. Unlike Penn he never came right out and advocated voting for her. Countless commenter and editors said Trump was the worst of all GOP candidates. Wrose than Jeb, worse than Kasich, worse than Lindsay Graham.

  14. I told you fucking cosmos this would happen.

    1. People might listen to more of what you have to say if you don’t have your dick in a rooster while you’re saying it. Just a thought.

      1. A rooster? Jesus dude, those critters have spurs. That’s a good way to lose a nut. Go with hens.

  15. I told you fucking cosmos this would happen.

    1. Yay! You’re finally right about something! Maybe your penis will work now.

  16. If true, that would mean Trump could move more quickly to curtail the EPA and other agencies that he sees as holding back businesses and the economy as a whole.

    Eric, I have some constructive criticism.

    You see the words I bolded? Those are weasel words, loaded with uncertainty. Robby has turned weaseling into an art form, but you don’t have to be like him if you want to get anywhere. It’s okay, this is a libertarian magazine. You can confidently state that the EPA and other agencies are holding back business and the economy, because you would be stating a well established fact that most of us understand. You don’t have to feel guilty about crediting Trump for doing something libertarian. You should celebrate any advancement of liberty we can get our grubby hands on.

    1. Good point, Micro.

      The grudging support for any paring back of the regulatory state at a libertarian magazine is . . . troubling.

      1. How do you people read this post and call it “grudging support”? Did he need to include some celebratory GIFs or something?

        1. TDS-DS. And anything short of a sloppy blowjob and a swallow is unfair criticism.

          1. I should say I do think this news could warrant an “It’s Happening!” GIF, though I’d wait for the day these regs are actually repealed, and not just the promise of an unnamed source.

        2. Do you not understand they are using weasel words about what is supposed to be the entire fucking point of Reason Foundation?

          1. I understand why you view it as a weasel word but there is an alternate reading – that Trump’s actions are being driven more by his perceptions than reality.

            Regardless, you seem to be picking on a pretty small point.

        3. How do you people read this post and call it “grudging support”?

          That was a little strong, true. I’m still suffering from RDS after the horrid campaign coverage, and Reason’s continued addiction to fake news.

      2. There are good and bad ways to dismantle the regulatory state.

        1. The good way – fast and hard.

          The bad way – slow and easy.

          1. I’m not so sure of that. The regulatory state is massively intertwined with the economy and the federal workforce engaged in regulation is substantial. There is also the political side of things that you can’t just ignore completely. I think getting rid of a bunch of things at once is fine but I also think you need to give the private sector time to digest what that will mean and give the workforce time to prepare. Otherwise you may very well create chaos, an uptick in unemployment, and too many sob stories for HuffPost to wrap their head around. That may all be short term, but politics is short term.

            Take the time to do it right, communicate clearly, let people sort out the consequences, etc.

            Also, as I said below, don’t show favoritism for certain special interests when deciding what to cut.

            1. It is time to just rip off the bandaid already.

              1. But the regulatory state isn’t a bandaid. It’s a massive, shoddily built 5 story addition to your house that sits above your bedroom.

                And while I know this will sound like heresy, some of it serves a good end but does so in a massively inefficient way. You probably still want something ready to replace the regulations, though.

    2. It’s an accurate way of describing the situation. He’s going after agencies that he sees as damaging, but not those agencies that good libertarians know are also holding back businesses and the economy as a whole (e.g. regulations that subsidize domestic industries or penalize foreign industries and offshoring).

      1. So the reason stance is that since he’s not going to go far enough he shouldn’t even start.

  17. I have to admit I didn’t see this coming at all. Maybe I missed something by just catching a few parts of the debates, but I don’t remember any emphasis on rolling back regs by Trump during the campaign

    1. It was a recurring theme on his twitter page, if you dared to wade into that.

      1. I’m just not that brave

    2. He is just softening up before unleashing his vigilante murder gangs.

      1. Shhh! Keep quiet and wait for the signal.

        1. Shouldn’t be long. I’ve already got my kill list from Drumpf Central.

      2. You may jest, but there are people who actually believe that.

        1. I was referring to those ridiculous people. Suderman and Dalmia come to mind.

    3. This was there for the whole campaign. But of course with Reason’s “glass mostly empty” coverage of Trump, it got little to no attention.

  18. Hopefully enough regulations are eliminated to actually kick the economy back into normalcy.
    We might even have enough to pay for his stupid wall and some of the debt.

  19. This sounds like potentially good news (devil, as always, is in the details). Social media is going to have an aneurysm, though.

    PLEASE go through Congress before 2018 so there is a better chance of making these permanent. And while we’re at it, let’s not just cut regulations on sectors that Republican donors like.

    1. This would really be a good idea. And when it ends up helping, maybe a libertarian can have a chance. “See, these regs were not needed, now lets put someone in office who isn’t horrible on things like a wall and someone who is more consistent in these positions.”

      1. Absolutely. But that’s why I think it’s especially important that regulatory reform be broad based, at least in terms of impact if not in terms of policy areas, if that makes sense. Make no mistake – this will be spun as Trump not just rolling back regulations, but ripping the heart out of the noble collective enterprise that is government so that big oil can pollute and kill the Earth and corporations can get rich off the back of poor students and teachers. If the average American sees no obvious and fairly direct benefits from regulatory reform, that narrative will take hold. If, on the other hand, people see their friends having an easier time opening a small business and creating jobs in depressed areas, that narrative will be harder to make stick.

    2. Cut Regulators not just regulations. Save some taxpayer money and slow down the pace of future regulations.

      1. 20% of the civilian fed workforce is the claim. Might be a negotiating point or might be a promise.

      2. Good good

    3. The problem with that is the idea that Republican congressmen would actually want to cut regulations.

  20. I ahve no problem with less regulation on the size of bulbs or what types of toilets people use. Having said that, come on. The EPA needs reform. Some of you guys who want the EPA don’t give us solutions on how to make companies pay for the true cost of their making goods. Sure, one can say the local state can sue the company. BUt we have seen that be a joke where an industry that provides jobs locally damage more than their fair share of the surrounding environment without having to pay for the true cost of fixing all that damage decades later. Nothing wrong with making sure companies do not damage the air and water because government has shown they are unwilling to get fair share of damages in lawsuits once the damage is done.

    1. This is what I was talking about up above. I think a regulatory approach to environmental protection is prone to major inefficiencies and capture. But I still want environmental protection. A property rights approach is vastly preferable but it’s not always straight forward to define, enforce, and trade property rights to certain environmental resources. It’s not impossible but the right institutions, public and private, need to exist, and they don’t just sprout up overnight. But combine a repeal of environmental regulations with mechanisms for clearly defining and enforcing traceable property rights, and give the private sector time to prepare, and the results could be very positive.

      Also, I recommend Free Market Environmentalism if you are interested in this type of thing.

    2. This is what I was talking about up above. I think a regulatory approach to environmental protection is prone to major inefficiencies and capture. But I still want environmental protection. A property rights approach is vastly preferable but it’s not always straight forward to define, enforce, and trade property rights to certain environmental resources. It’s not impossible but the right institutions, public and private, need to exist, and they don’t just sprout up overnight. But combine a repeal of environmental regulations with mechanisms for clearly defining and enforcing traceable property rights, and give the private sector time to prepare, and the results could be very positive.

      Also, I recommend Free Market Environmentalism if you are interested in this type of thing.

  21. The first thing that should happen to the EPA is being fined and the responsible people prosecuted for the toxic waste spill they caused from that old mine – with the funds distributed to the people affected by the spill.

    Next up, fine the EPA for the MTBE gasoline additive they demanded be used in cold weather, which has caused people to get sick and has polluted groundwater, along with reducing efficiency by displacing part of the fuel per gallon.

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