Millions of Americans are coming to grips with the broad social and political ramifications of Donald Trump's stunning upset victory in last Tuesday's presidential election. And while the president-elect's policy pronouncements to date have been short on detail, one thing is clear: those concerned with environmental protection and climate change had better buckle up for a wild ride.
As a 15-year veteran of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and former agency enforcement official, I served under both Republican and Democratic administrations and played key roles in briefing incoming political leadership during transitions. As I know up close, for better or worse, federal agencies are not nimble and do not steer on a dime, a fact that often frustrates new political leadership.
While the rhetoric of campaigns does not always translate into the actions of governance, Trump's environmental policy appears to rest on the twin pillars of deregulation and fossil fuel promotion. While Trump's economic focus during the campaign was on trade deals and lower taxes, he also believes that over-regulation, particularly by the EPA and Department of Interior, is responsible for the loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs in the United States. He has pledged to place a temporary moratorium on new rulemaking early in his administration and has stated two regulations will be withdrawn for every new regulation promulgated during his term.