The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has greatly surpassed the Trump administration’s “two-for-one” deregulatory goals by cutting almost 7 times more regulations than the amount introduced, according to a report the EPA’s Office of Inspector General.
In January 2017, President Donald Trump issued an executive order (EO) directing federal agencies to follow a new regulatory agenda in an effort to reduce costs. The EO mandated that for every regulation an agency authorized, two would need to be eliminated.
EPA faces major cuts to save money
However, while the agency cut twenty-six regulations, the agency only created 4 new ones over the administration’s first 2 years. This action saved the EPA more than $96 million in the fiscal years 2017 and 2018. That amounted to around $6 million more than the Office of Management and Budget had called for.
During the administration’s first year, the report also stated the EPA had issued more deregulatory actions than any other federal agency. Some major EPA actions include rolling back the Endangered Species Act and ones aimed at reducing carbon emissions.
EPA seemingly satisfied with results
Upon the report’s release, Acting Deputy Administrator Henry Darwin expressed his satisfaction with the agency’s work in a memo.
“The EPA has successfully and fully implemented the requirements of the Executive Order,” Darwin said.
In the report, the inspector general recommended the EPA increase transparency for regulatory actions. To do that, it proposes improving stakeholder outreach and providing public access to updates on the agency’s work.
Trump administration receives backlash
Although the agency has vastly exceeded cost-effective goals, the exact ramifications on human health or the environment are unclear.
Earlier in March, former EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner released a statement slamming the Trump administration’s funding cuts, calling the White House’s 2020 budgeting plan a “blueprint for failure.” Although the 31% slash in EPA funding was ultimately failed by the House, it’s evident that reducing costs allocated for the agency is still a priority for the current administration.
“This isn’t a budget for a better America, it’s a budget for a sicker, dirtier America,” Browner said. “The EPA budget truly is about how we prioritize clean air, clean water, stopping deadly pollution and holding polluters accountable. This budget fails to accomplish any of those priorities.”
The nonprofit environmental organization, the Sierra Club, echoed Browner’s frustrations. The group’s Deputy Director for Federal and Administrative Advocacy, Matthew Gravatt, said slashes in funding demonstrated that EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler “couldn’t care less” about the welfare of the planet and its inhabitants.
“The EPA should not be bragging about cutting vital safeguards for our air, water, and climate,” Gravatt said. “Going above and beyond Trump’s arbitrary benchmark is not an achievement.”
With the 2020 elections looming closer, many Democrats and environmentalists alike hope to elect a candidate who will prioritize the environment and reallocate more attention and funding towards the EPA. Because although eliminating key environmental regulations may save the government some money now, it will only counteract all current efforts to save the planet.