Briefly

Stuff that matters

out with the old

Reuters / Gary Cameron

It’s even easier than you thought for Republicans to repeal President Obama’s environmental protections.

President-elect Trump has promised to undo all of Obama’s climate-related regulations, from the Clean Power Plan to methane rules. Historically, a new president had to spend years creating new rules to scotch regulations put in place by a predecessor.

Any new rules can usually be challenged in court. For example, when Trump gets around to unravelling the Environmental Protection Agency’s rule from last year lowering the amount of smog, public health organizations could sue to stop him. They would argue that the stricter standard fulfilled an EPA obligation under the Clean Air Act, so abolishing it would violate the law.

Republicans have a way around this. Back in 1996, Newt Gingrich and his House Republicans passed the Congressional Review Act. It lets Congress overturn a new regulation within 60 days on the legislative calendar of the rule getting finalized. Since Congress is rarely in session, 60 legislative days can span more than 6 months, so Republicans will be able to scrap any agency rule put in place since late May.

When Republicans tried to use the procedure in recent years, Obama would always veto it. Trump surely won’t.

More than 150 recently finalized rules are vulnerable. They include stricter fuel-efficiency rules for trucks and a new rule limiting methane leakage in oil and gas drilling operations on public lands.