This Week in Controversial Environmental Laws - Pacific Standard

This Week in Controversial Environmental Laws

White House officials call for fewer rules for power plants, and more rules for federal environmental science.
Author:
Publish date:
The gas-powered Valley Generating Station is seen in the San Fernando Valley on March 10th, 2017, in Sun Valley, California. (Photo: David McNew/Getty Images)

The gas-powered Valley Generating Station is seen in the San Fernando Valley on March 10th, 2017, in Sun Valley, California. (Photo: David McNew/Getty Images)

Two important regulations dealing with environmental protection and science are expected to move through the federal government this week. Both exemplify the Trump administration’s belief that reducing environmental regulation is good for the economy, and both are opposed by many scientists and conservationists. Below, a quick overview:

Fewer Rules for Power Plants

President Donald Trump is expected to issue an executive order this week that reverses Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan.

The Clean Power Plan sets limits for how much carbon dioxide coal- and oil-burning power plants are allowed to emit. By dismantling the Obama administration’s climate regulations, the Trump White House hopes to create jobs and lower the price of electricity, Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt told ABC News. Pruitt has said in the past that he does not believe carbon dioxide is the primary reason for climate change, a stance that contradicts established science on the matter.

More Rules for EPA Science

The House of Representatives is supposed to vote this week on the Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act, also known as the HONEST Act, E&E Daily reports. The HONEST Act requires the Environmental Protection Agency to use “transparent” and “reproducible” science for all of its assessments and regulations. Although that directive may seem sound, many scientists point out that it would prevent the EPA from using studies based on people’s medical records, which are technically not “transparent” because the EPA is legally and ethically mandated to keep health data confidential, as The Atlantic reports.

Congressional aides The Atlantic spoke with said the HONEST Act provides for keeping those records under wraps, but critics argue that, in practice, redacting all that information would be too much work. The HONEST Act allots $1 million to the EPA to fulfill its obligations, but a Congressional Budget Office estimate for a previous version of the HONEST Act found it would take $250 million to implement.

Related