The Trump administration has plans to shrink and diminish protections in at least ten of America’s national monuments. The goal seems to be to make many of these lands available for one form of exploitation or another including logging, mining and commercial fishing.

Heading the list are Bear Ears, established by President Obama, and Grand Staircase-Escalante established by Bill Clinton. The former would be reduced by 1 million acres from its current 1.35 million acres. The 1.9 million acre Grand Staircase would be reduced by 700,000 to 1.2 million acres. [WPost, 11/29/17]

Notably President Obama expanded or created 34 national monuments.

Betsy DeVos, the Secretary of Education has set out to shrink the Department of Education, and she is making progress.

DeVos attempted to cut the departments’ budget by 13.5%. She planned to do this by “eliminating teacher training and college-prep programs for impoverished children investing instead in expanding school choice and increasing funds for charter schools and possibly offering vouchers for private schools.” Congress has suggested it is likely to restore many of the cuts.

But DeVos has the power to trim the staff of the department. She cut 46 people from the office of Civil Rights in an effort to scale back the activities of the office. She ordered the staff to narrow the scope of their investigations. She is also using buyouts and early retirement offers in an effort to reduce the size of the student aid office, notwithstanding the fact that there are 87,000 applications to be processed by just 14 people.

The Secretary does not hide her goal of turning the control of education to the states. [Facts and quotes above are from WPost, 11/9/17]

President Trump has directed that unless a statute requires otherwise, an agency of the federal government can only issue a new regulation by rescinding two or more existing regulations. [WSJ, 11/19/17]

Trump has stopped any rule making that was in progress and revoked numerous existing rules or executive orders by previous Presidents at a record pace.

The affected rules include:

  • a rule that expanded the number of people who could earn overtime pay
  • an executive order that related to protecting women in the workplace
  • ended a rule that allowed consumers to file class-action suits against financial companies
  • the Clean Power Plan
  • reversed a ban on drilling for oil in the Arctic
  • a rule banning dumping of waste from mining into streams

The list is endless. For a complete list through the end of October see Phillip Bump’s article in the October 27th Washington Post entitled “What Trump has undone.”

Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, has said the Trump administration’s high-profile regulatory rollback does not mean a free pass for violators of environmental laws. But as the Trump administration moves from one attention-grabbing headline to the next, it has taken a significant but less-noticed turn in the enforcement of federal pollution laws.

An analysis of enforcement data by The New York Times shows that the administration has adopted a more lenient approach than the previous two administrations — Democratic and Republican — toward polluters. [NYTimes.com, 12/10/17]