“The White House has drafted a proposal to scale back environmental requirements in an effort to make it easier to construct roads, bridges and pipelines across the country…

“The plan would change things such as how officials decide a pipeline route, how a proposed border wall with Mexico would be built…

“Critics of the administration said the proposal as outlined in the documents would gut key environmental protections enshrined in laws dating back to the 1970s, such as the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clear Air Act and the Clean Water Act.

“The Forest Service will no longer prepare a full-scale ‘environmental impact statement’ (EIS) on the effects of mining in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters. Instead the Interior Department will conduct a less rigorous ‘environmental assessment’ (EA) on how blocking mining would impact the surrounding wilderness.”
[WP, 1/26/18]

“Health care workers who want to refuse to treat patients because of religious or moral beliefs will have a new defender in the Trump Administration.

“The top civil rights official at the Department of Health and Human Services is creating the Division of Conscience and Religious Freedom to protect doctors, nurses and other health care workers who refuse to take part in procedures like abortion, or treat certain people – especially transgender patients – because of moral or religious objections.” [NPR, 1/18/18]

Tourism to the U.S. is down across the board, a dip that began after President Trump’s inauguration and may be tied to his anti-immigration language and policies. All told, the latest data from the National Travel and Tourism Office shows a 3.3 percent drop in travel spending and a 4 percent decline in inbound travel since the president took office. That translates to an economic dent of $4.6 billion in lost spending and 40,000 jobs. Perhaps a slightly more welcoming tone may have been the one to take for a country that — until this report — ranked as the second most popular travel destination on earth. [NBC News /The New York Daily News]

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, now led by the anti-CFPB ex-Congressman Mick Mulvaney (also the head of OMB) has put a hold on regulations restricting high-interest rate loans from payday lenders. The agency also dropped a lawsuit against internet lenders charging 900 percent interest rates. [NPR]

The EPA under the Trump administration is making it easier for manufacturers to introduce new chemicals, under pressure from chemical industry lobbyists who say the process is too slow and cumbersome. But experts and advocates say the agency is skipping vital steps to protect the public from hazardous chemicals, undermining regulations passed in 2016 by Congress. [NBC, 1/17/18]

The Trump administration has ended Medicaid as we know it, allowing states to enact work requirements as part of their Medicaid programs. This decision has put the health insurance of 6.3 million Americans at risk, the vast majority of whom are caregivers, students or retirees. [Progress Report, 1/16/18]

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced Monday it will terminate a temporary protected status program for nearly 200,000 Salvadorans in September 2019. [Public Policy Law 360, 1/8/18]

The number of federal workplace safety inspectors has fallen under the Trump administration, raising questions about the government efforts to protect workers and the long term impact of the White House’s move to slow hiring. OSHA lost 40 inspectors through attrition last year. [NBC, 1/8/18]

The Trump administration plans to allow drilling in all U.S. waters. The President has long backed expanded drilling along the nation’s coasts as part of his energy plan. Coastal communities that rely on fishing and tourism have opposed drilling, and the plan faces bipartisan criticism.

Subsequent to the initial announcement on 1/4/18, Interior Secretary Zinke announced that the new rules would not apply to drilling around Florida after visiting with Governor Scott who is considering a run for the U.S. Senate.