Federal Roundup for February 17, 2017

by | Feb 16, 2017

As promised, we are continuing a series to keep you updated about executive and legislative actions in this new administration. I blogged about the most recent updates last week, and we are still encouraging you to oppose Scott Pruitt as EPA Administrator. Several new developments have cropped up and we have updates from last week:

New Developments

February 7: Wasteful EPA Programs Elimination Act (H.R.958)

Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas) introduced the Wasteful EPA Programs Elimination Act on Thursday, saying it would save $7.5 billion annually. That would leave the agency with a budget of less than $1 billion. This bill would eliminate EPA climate change programs and would also close all of the EPA’s regional offices, halt new regulations on ground-level ozone pollution and require the agency to lease unused property. As of the date of this post, no further action has been taken on this bill.

February 9: Donald Trump added as a defendant in children’s’ climate case

The case is Juliana v. United States, and began in August of 2015. The case argues that the federal government, in its actions, has endangered future generations’ rights to what is known as the public trust . The public trust is an old legal doctrine that holds that it is the government’s responsibility to preserve certain natural resources for public use. The Youth plaintiffs in the federal case filed notice with the court that they were replacing former President Barack Obama with President Trump.

February 15: Senate hearings on “modernizing” the Endangered Species Act

John Barrassoo (R-Wyo.) led a two-hour meeting of the Environment and Public Works Committee to ““eliminate[e] a lot of the red tape and the bureaucratic burdens that have been impacting our ability to create jobs,” under the Endangered Species Act. There was no discussion on the committee about the stability of species that were listed and recovered as a result of the act, and also no discussion of continued human expansion into the habitats of hundreds of species as their numbers dwindle.

February 16: Senate committee votes to advance Scott Pruitt as EPA Administrator

In a 54-46 vote, the Senate advanced Scott Pruitt’s Nomination to head the EPA. A final vote could occur as early as Friday (tomorrow). We are urging our supporters to make their voices heard immediately. Scott Pruitt is an offensive choice to lead the EPA.


February 16: Senators’ ask Scott Pruitt to recuse himself

On February 16, Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) sent a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt asking him to recuse himself from participating in any matter related to litigation that he pursued against the EPA as Oklahoma Attorney General. Markey was joined by 29 other Senators in this letter. In the letter, the senators specifically call on Mr. Pruitt to recuse himself from decisions on how the EPA will defend itself against the lawsuits he brought for as long as those cases are active. They also call on Mr. Pruitt to recuse himself from any actions the EPA may make as a result of court action on litigation from which he is recused, as well as recuse himself from directing the revision or elimination of any regulation regarding issues on which he has sued the EPA. During his testimony at his confirmation hearing and in follow-up questions for the record, Mr. Pruitt refused to recuse himself from any of these matters.


Congressional Review Act put into play by U.S. Congress

The CRA allows senators and representatives who disapprove of a regulation to enter a resolution eliminating it. The resolutions require the signature of the president. So far this year, the following rules protecting the environment and human health have been targeted under the CRA:

  1. The Department of Interior’s Stream Protection Rule. This regulation restricted coal companies from dumping waste, such as mining debris, into streams. Unfortunately, President Trump signed the resolution repealing this rule today.
  2. Department of the Interior Methane Flaring Rule. The House voted on February 3 with no action so far from the Senate as of the date of this post.
  3. Drilling and Mining on Public Lands: On January 31, the House introduced a joint resolution that would repeal the rules that allow the National Park Service to manage private drilling and mining in 40 parks across the country.
  4. Cardin-Lugar amendment of the Dodd-Frank Act: The rule, implemented by the Securities and Exchange Commission, was mandated in 2010 by the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, better known as Dodd-Frank. After a court battle, the SEC introduced it last year in June. It requires public companies that extract oil, natural gas or minerals abroad to disclose in an annual report any payments made to a foreign government or the U.S. federal government. Companies were not required to comply with the rule until their first fiscal year ending on or after Sept. 30, 2018. On February 14, President Trump signed a resolution to repeal this rule.

January 24: Stopping EPA Overreach Act of 2017 (H.R. 637)

This is a proposed bill (Gary Palmer, R-AL) that blocks the EPA’s ability to address climate change. There has been no action since the bill was introduced. Gary Palmer is hosting a town hall in Birmingham, Ala., on February 25 at 9 a.m. at Hoover City Hall. We are collecting petition signatures opposing this ridiculous piece of legislation. Please click the button below to add your name. We will deliver these to Mr. Palmer’s staff at the town hall meeting on your behalf.


February 3: Bill to terminate the Environmental Protection Agency (H.R. 861)

Matt Gaetz (R-FL, 1st District) introduced a bill that would abolish the EPA effective December 31, 2018. No actions taken since the bill was introduced.

We are keeping our ear to the ground on any and all developments that could affect clean air and health in Alabama. Be on the look out for regular updates from us about legislative and executive actions that could threaten your health and environment. We will also always provide ways for you to act on any development, whether it’s positive or negative.

About Haley Lewis
Haley joined GASP in 2014 as our programs manager and was named staff attorney in 2016. She has a B.A. from George Washington University, J.D. from Cumberland School of Law and a master’s in public administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Email Haley
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