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The internal watchdog (Inspector General or IG) of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced they had opened an investigation into the Safer Affordable Fuel Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles rule, Coral Davenport and Lisa Friedman reported in the New York Times last week. SAFE represented a significant weakening of Obama-era “Clean Car” regulations “that would have limited automobile emissions by significantly raising fuel economy standards,” the NYT noted. Many prominent outside experts argue the Trump rule does not “stand up to rigorous independent analysis” and want the EPA to make public the formulas and economic models they used. In addition, according to the NYT, auditors will “investigate whether the Trump administration ‘acted consistent with requirements, including those pertaining to transparency, record-keeping, and docketing, and followed the E.P.A’s process for developing final regulatory action.”
Why This Matters: As Vickie Patton, general counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund, told the NYT, “this is really serious…It’s rare for E.P.A.’s inspector general to conduct an investigation of the agency’s rule-making.” While the IG does not have the authority to change the rule, the findings of the investigation could shine a spotlight on potential procedural or substantive legal violations, spurring further Congressional investigations or providing justification to overturn the rule in court.
SAFE has had controversy surrounding it since its beginning. As Davenport and Friedman reported, Trump administration officials were “acutely aware” that a Biden administration could use the Congressional Review Act to overturn the regulation with a congressional vote. Because of that, as one former Trump administration official noted to the NYT, “political appointees working on the rule had rushed to complete it before April, fearing that, if it was published later this year, it could be quickly overturned in 2021” should Biden win.
by Julia Fine, ODP Contributing Writer The positive environmental impact of the COVID-19 pandemic “prove short-lived,” Rebecca Beitsch reported for the Hill this week. While emissions took a “massive drop a few months ago,” according to Beitsch they are now “within 5 percent of what they were around the same time last year.” Professor Corinne […]
Over the course of the Trump presidency, the Trump administration has unraveled nearly all of Obama’s environmental policies. A new report from the Rhodium Group suggests that this could pump 1.8 billion tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere over the next fifteen years.
Why this Matters: Trump’s swift reversal of environmental policies is unprecedented in the time since the major environmental laws were enacted, and these actions are likely to have dire impacts if courts uphold them.
A new study conducted by an international team of researchers has found that air pollution can play a role in the development of cardiometabolic diseases such as diabetes. But most startling is that the study also shows that living in a polluted region was comparable to eating a high-fat diet. As Science Daily explained, researchers […]
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