Air Pollution Deaths Increase Following Trump’s Attacks on the Environment

95 Environmental & Animal Rights Protections Rolled Back By the Trump Administration

Reduced air quality in the United States is causing premature deaths across the country, according to economists from Carnegie Mellon University studying Environmental Protection Agency data during the Trump administration.

“That increase (in air pollution) was associated with 9,700 premature deaths in 2018,” wrote Karen Clay and Nicholas Muller in Recent Increases in Air Pollution: Evidence and Implications for Mortality, a new paper detailing their research.

The rise in particulate matter comes from the Trump administration’s attacks on environmental protections including the US Clean Air Act. Wildfires and increased use of natural gas use were also cited.

The report echos the findings of Climate & Health Showdown in the Courts, a March 2019 report by New York University Law School’s State Energy and Environmental Impact Center.

Writing for the New York Times, Nadja Popovich, Livia Albeck-Ripka and Kendra Pierre-Louis have listed 85 Environmental Rules Being Rolled Back Under Trump. Based on research from Harvard Law SchoolColumbia Law School and other sources, the list represents two types of policy changes: rules that were officially reversed and rollbacks still in progress. The Trump administration has released an aggressive schedule to try to finalize many of these rollbacks this year.
In some cases, the Trump administration skipped key steps in the rulemaking process, like notifying the public and asking for comment. In several cases, courts have ordered agencies to enforce their own rules following legal challenges.
The following are 95 rollbacks of air pollution and other environmental regulations enacted or proposed by the Trump administration (last updated October 2019).


Air Pollution and Emissions Rollbacks Under Trump

1. Canceled a requirement for oil and gas companies to report methane emissions. Environmental Protection Agency | Read more
2. Revised and partially repealed an Obama-era rule limiting methane emissions on public lands, including intentional venting and flaring from drilling operations. Interior Department | Read more
3. Loosened a Clinton-era rule designed to limit toxic emissions from major industrial polluters. E.P.A. | Read more
4. Stopped enforcing a 2015 rule that prohibited the use of hydrofluorocarbons, powerful greenhouse gases, in air-conditioners and refrigerators. E.P.A. | Read more
5. Repealed a requirement that state and regional authorities track tailpipe emissions from vehicles traveling on federal highways.Transportation Department | Read more
6. Reverted to a weaker 2009 pollution permitting program for new power plants and expansions. E.P.A. | Read more
7. Amended rules that govern how refineries monitor pollution in surrounding communities. E.P.A. | Read more
8. Directed agencies to stop using an Obama-era calculation of the “social cost of carbon” that rulemakers used to estimate the long-term economic benefits of reducing carbon dioxide emissions.Executive Order | Read more
9. Withdrew guidance that federal agencies include greenhouse gas emissions in environmental reviews. But several district courts have ruled that emissions must be included in such reviews.Executive Order; Council on Environmental Quality | Read more
10. Lifted a summertime ban on the use of E15, a gasoline blend made of 15 percent ethanol. (Burning gasoline with a higher concentration of ethanol in hot conditions increases smog.)E.P.A. | Read more


Air Pollution and Emissions Rollbacks in Process

11. Proposed rules to end federal requirements that oil and gas companies install technology to inspect for and fix methane leaks from wells, pipelines and storage facilities. E.P.A. | Read more
12. Proposed weakening Obama-era fuel-economy standards for cars and light trucks. The proposal also challenges California’s right to set its own more stringent standards, which other states can choose to follow. E.P.A. and Transportation Department | Read more
13. Announced intent to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement. (The process of withdrawing cannot be completed until 2020.) Executive Order | Read more
14. Proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan, which would have set strict limits on carbon emissions from coal- and gas-fired power plants. In April 2019, the E.P.A. sent a replacement plan, which would let states set their own rules, to the White House for budget review.Executive Order; E.P.A. | Read more
15. Proposed eliminating Obama-era restrictions that in effect required newly built coal power plants to capture carbon dioxide emissions. E.P.A. | Read more
16. Proposed a legal justification for weakening an Obama-era rule that limited mercury emissions from coal power plants. E.P.A. | Read more
17. Proposed revisions to standards for carbon dioxide emissions from new, modified and reconstructed power plants.Executive Order; E.P.A. | Read more
18. Began review of emissions rules for power plant start-ups, shutdowns and malfunctions. In April, the E.P.A. filed an order reversing a requirement that 36 states follow the emissions rule. E.P.A. | Read more
19. Proposed relaxing Obama-era requirements that companies monitor and repair methane leaks at oil and gas facilities. E.P.A. | Read more
20. Proposed changing rules aimed at cutting methane emissions from landfills. In May, 2019, a federal judge ruled against the E.P.A. for failing to enforce the existing law and gave the agency a fall deadline for finalizing state and federal rules. E.P.A. said it is reviewing the decision.E.P.A. | Read more
21. Announced a rewrite of an Obama-era rule meant to reduce air pollution in national parks and wilderness areas. E.P.A. | Read more
22. Weakened oversight of some state plans for reducing air pollution in national parks. (In Texas, the E.P.A. rejected an Obama-era plan that would have required the installation of equipment at some coal-burning power plants to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions.) E.P.A. | Read more
23. Proposed repealing leak-repair, maintenance and reporting requirements for large refrigeration and air conditioning systems containing hydrofluorocarbons. E.P.A. | Read more
24. Proposed limiting the ability of individuals and communities to challenge E.P.A.-issued pollution permits before a panel of agency judges. E.P.A. | Read more


Drilling and Extraction Rollbacks Under Trump

25. Made significant cuts to the borders of two national monuments in Utah and recommended border and resource management changes to several more.Presidential Proclamation; Interior Department | Read more
26. Rescinded water pollution regulations for fracking on federal and Indian lands.Interior Department | Read more
27. Scrapped a proposed rule that required mines to prove they could pay to clean up future pollution. E.P.A. | Read more
28. Withdrew a requirement that Gulf oil rig owners prove they could cover the costs of removing rigs once they have stopped producing.Interior Department | Read more
29. Approved construction of the Dakota Access pipeline less than a mile from the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. Under the Obama administration, the Army Corps of Engineers had said it would explore alternative routes.Executive Order; Army | Read more
30. Revoked an Obama-era executive order designed to preserve ocean, coastal and Great Lakes waters in favor of a policy focused on energy production and economic growth. Executive Order | Read more
31. Changed how the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission considers the indirect effects of greenhouse gas emissions in environmental reviews of pipelines. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission | Read more
32. Permitted the use of seismic air guns for gas and oil exploration in the Atlantic Ocean. The practice, which can kill marine life and disrupt fisheries, was blocked under the Obama administration. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Read more
33. Loosened offshore drilling safety regulations implemented by the Obama administration following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill. The revised rules include reduced testing requirements for blowout prevention systems. Interior Department | Read more


Drilling and Extraction Rollbacks in Process

34. Completed preliminary environmental reviews to clear the way for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.Congress; Interior Department | Read more
35. Proposed opening most of America’s coastal waters to offshore oil and gas drilling, but delayed the plan after a federal judge ruled that Mr. Trump’s reversal of an Obama-era ban on drilling in the Arctic Ocean was unlawlful. Interior Department | Read more
36. Lifted an Obama-era freeze on new coal leases on public lands. But, in April 2019, a judge ruled that the Interior Department could not begin selling new leases without completing an environmental review. A month later, the agency published a draft assessment that concluded restarting federal coal leasing would have little environmental impact.Executive Order; Interior Department | Read more
37. Repealed an Obama-era rule governing royalties for oil, gas and coal leases on federal lands, which replaced a 1980s rule that critics said allowed companies to underpay the federal government. A federal judge struck down the Trump administration’s repeal. The Interior Department is reviewing the decision.Interior Department | Read more
38. Proposed “streamlining” the approval process for drilling for oil and gas in national forests.Agriculture Department; Interior Department | Read more
39. Ordered review of regulations on oil and gas drilling in national parks where mineral rights are privately owned.Executive Order; Interior Department | Read more
40. Recommended shrinking three marine protected areas, or opening them to commercial fishing.Executive Order; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Read more
41. Ordered review of regulations on offshore oil and gas exploration by floating vessels in the Arctic that were developed after a 2013 accident. The Interior Department said it was “considering full rescission or revision of this rule.”Executive Order; Interior Department | Read more
42. Approved the Keystone XL pipeline rejected by President Barack Obama, but a federal judge blocked the project from going forward without an adequate environmental review process. Mr. Trump later attempted to side-step the ruling by issuing a presidential permit, but the project remains tied up in court. Executive Order; State Department | Read more


Infrastructure and Planning Rollbacks Under Trump

43. Revoked Obama-era flood standards for federal infrastructure projects, like roads and bridges. The standards required the government to account for sea-level rise and other climate change effects.Executive Order | Read more
44. Relaxed the environmental review process for federal infrastructure projects.Executive Order | Read more
45. Revoked a directive for federal agencies to minimize impacts on water, wildlife, land and other natural resources when approving development projects.Executive Order | Read more
46. Revoked an Obama executive order promoting “climate resilience” in the northern Bering Sea region of Alaska, which withdrew local waters from oil and gas leasing and established a tribal advisory council to consult on local environmental issues.Executive Order | Read more
47. Revoked an Obama executive order that set a goal of cutting the federal government’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent over 10 years.Executive Order | Read more
48. Reversed an update to the Bureau of Land Management’s public land use planning process.Congress | Read more
49. Withdrew an Obama-era order to consider climate change in managing natural resources in national parks.National Park Service | Read more
50. Restricted most Interior Department environmental studies to one year in length and a maximum of 150 pages, citing a need to reduce paperwork.Interior Department | Read more
51. Withdrew a number of Obama-era Interior Department climate change and conservation policies that the agency said could “burden the development or utilization of domestically produced energy resources.”Interior Department | Read more
52. Eliminated the use of an Obama-era planning system designed to minimize harm from oil and gas activity on sensitive landscapes, such as national parks.Interior Department | Read more
53. Eased the environmental review processes for small wireless infrastructure projects with the goal of expanding 5G wireless networks.Federal Communications Commission | Read more
54. Withdrew Obama-era policies designed to maintain or, ideally improve, natural resources affected by federal projects.Interior Department | Read more


Infrastructure and Planning Rollbacks in Process

55. Proposed plans to streamline the environmental review process for Forest Service projects.Agriculture Department | Read more


Animal Protection Rollbacks Under Trump

56. Changed the way the Endangered Species Act is applied, making it more difficult to protect wildlife from long-term threats posed by climate change.Interior Department | Read more
57. Opened nine million acres of Western land to oil and gas drilling by weakening habitat protections for the sage grouse, an imperiled bird with an elaborate mating dance.Interior Department | Read more
58. Overturned a ban on the use of lead ammunition and fishing tackle on federal lands.Interior Department | Read more
59. Overturned a ban on the hunting of predators in Alaskan wildlife refuges.Congress | Read more
60. Ended an Obama-era rule barring hunters on some Alaska public lands from using bait to lure and kill grizzly bears.National Park Service; Interior Department | Read more
61. Withdrew proposed limits on the number of endangered marine mammals and sea turtles that people who fish could unintentionally kill or injure with sword-fishing nets on the West Coast. In 2018, California issued a state rule prohibiting the use of the nets the rule was intending to regulate.National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Read more
62. Amended fishing regulations for a number of species to allow for longer seasons and higher catch rates.National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Read more
63. Rolled back a roughly 40-year-old interpretation of a policy aimed at protecting migratory birds, potentially running afoul of treaties with Canada and Mexico.Interior Department | Read more
64. Overturned a ban on using parts of migratory birds in handicrafts made by Alaskan Natives.Interior Department | Read more


Animal Protection Rollbacks in Process

65. Proposed relaxing environmental protections for salmon and smelt in California’s Central Valley in order to free up water for farmers.Executive Order; Interior Department | Read more


Toxic Substances and Safety Rollbacks Under Trump

66. Rejected a proposed ban on chlorpyrifos, a pesticide linked to developmental disabilities in children.E.P.A. | Read more
67. Narrowed the scope of a 2016 law mandating safety assessments for potentially toxic chemicals, like dry-cleaning solvents and paint strippers. The E.P.A. will focus on direct exposure and exclude air, water and ground contamination. E.P.A. | Read more
68. Reversed an Obama-era rule that required braking system upgrades for “high hazard” trains hauling flammable liquids, like oil and ethanol.Transportation Department | Read more
69. Removed copper filter cake, an electronics manufacturing byproduct comprised of heavy metals, from the “hazardous waste” list. E.P.A. | Read more


Toxic Substances and Safety Rollbacks in Process

70. Announced a review of an Obama-era rule lowering coal dust limits in mines. The head of the Mine Safety and Health Administration said there were no immediate plans to change the dust limit, but the review is continuing.Labor Department | Read more


Water Pollution Rollbacks Under Trump

71. Scaled back pollution protections for certain tributaries and wetlands that were regulated under the Clean Water Act by the Obama administration. E.P.A.; Army | Read more
72. Revoked a rule that prevented coal companies from dumping mining debris into local streams.Congress | Read more
73. Withdrew a proposed rule aimed at reducing pollutants, including air pollution, at sewage treatment plants. E.P.A. | Read more
74. Withdrew a proposed rule requiring groundwater protections for certain uranium mines. E.P.A. | Read more
75. Weakened federal rules regulating the disposal and storage of coal ash waste from power plants. (A second phase of this rollback is still under way.)E.P.A. | Read more


Water Pollution Rollbacks in Process

76. Delayed by two years an E.P.A. rule regulating limits on toxic discharge, which can include mercury, from power plants into public waterways. E.P.A. | Read more
77. Ordered the E.P.A. to re-evaluate a section of the Clean Water Act and related guidance that allows states to reject or delay federal projects – including pipelines and other fossil fuel facilities – if they don’t meet local water quality goals.Executive Order; E.P.A. | Read more


Other Rollbacks Under Trump

78. Repealed an Obama-era regulation that would have nearly doubled the number of light bulbs subject to energy-efficiency standards starting in January 2020. The E.P.A. also proposed scaling back the next phase of efficiency standards for bulbs that remain subject to regulation.Energy Department | Read more
79. Prohibited funding environmental and community development projects through corporate settlements of federal lawsuits.Justice Department | Read more
80. Announced intent to stop payments to the Green Climate Fund, a United Nations program to help poorer countries reduce carbon emissions.Executive Order | Read more
81. Reversed restrictions on the sale of plastic water bottles in national parks designed to cut down on litter, despite a Park Service report that the effort worked.Interior Department | Read more


Other Rollbacks in Process

82. Proposed limiting the studies used by the E.P.A. for rulemaking to only those that make data publicly available. (The move was widely criticized by scientists, who said it would effectively block the agency from considering landmark research that relies on confidential health data.)E.P.A. | Read more
83. Proposed changes to the way cost-benefit analyses are conducted under the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and other environmental statutes. E.P.A. | Read more
84. Proposed withdrawing efficiency standards for residential furnaces and commercial water heaters designed to reduce energy use.Energy Department | Read more
85. Initially withdrew then delayed a proposed rule that would inform car owners about fuel-efficient replacement tires. (The Transportation Department has scheduled a new rulemaking notice for 2020.)Transportation Department | Read more

Protections That Were Reinstated Following Lawsuits and Other Challenges

86. Reinstated a rule aimed at improving safety at facilities that use hazardous chemicals following a federal court order. E.P.A. | Read more
87. Reversed course on repealing emissions standards for “glider” trucks — vehicles retrofitted with older, often dirtier engines — after Andrew Wheeler took over as head of the E.P.A. E.P.A. | Read more
88. Delayed a compliance deadline for new national ozone pollution standards by one year, but later reversed course. E.P.A. | Read more
89. Suspended an effort to lift restrictions on mining in Bristol Bay, Alaska. But the Army Corps of Engineers is performing an environmental review of an application for mining in the area.E.P.A.; Army | Read more
90. Delayed implementation of a rule regulating the certification and training of pesticide applicators, but a judge ruled that the E.P.A. had done so illegally and declared the rule in effect. E.P.A. | Read more
91. Initially delayed publishing efficiency standards for household appliances, but later published them after multiple states and environmental groups sued.Energy Department | Read more
92. Delayed federal building efficiency standards until Sept. 30, 2017, at which time the rules went into effect.Energy Department | Read more
93. Reissued a rule limiting the discharge of mercury by dental offices into municipal sewers after a lawsuit by the Natural Resources Defense Council, an advocacy group. E.P.A. | Read more
94. Re-posted a proposed rule limiting greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft, after initially changing its status to “inactive” on the E.P.A. website. In May 2019, the agency confimed it would issue the rule. E.P.A. | Read more
95. Removed the Yellowstone grizzly bear from the Endangered Species List, but the protections were later reinstated by a federal judge. (The Trump administration appealed the ruling in May 2019.)Interior Department | Read more

Note: This list does not include new rules proposed by the Trump administration that do not roll back previous policies, nor does it include court actions that have affected environmental policies independent of executive or legislative action.

Sources: Harvard Law School’s Environmental Regulation Rollback Tracker; Columbia Law School’s Climate Deregulation Tracker; Brookings Institution; Federal Register; Environmental Protection Agency; Interior Department; U.S. Chamber of Commerce; White House.