Back in February, Steve Bannon, then a high-ranking advisor to Donald Trump, said the administration is in a battle for the deconstruction of the administrative state. Since then, Trump’s Cabinet members have, by all accounts, gotten down to this task with laser-like focus. Since President Trump’s inauguration, the EPA has rolled back or delayed at least 30 rules and regulations. The common theme? Anything that Obama touched.
In this episode of Trump on Earth, we talk with The Hill’s Timothy Cama, who bushwhacks his way through the unruly thicket of legislation on Capitol Hill and tracks the steady stream executive orders coming out of the White House.
“You know, it seems that if it has President Obama’s name on it, then President Trump wants to undo it, almost no matter what the substance of the policy is,” says Cama. “We saw that for example, a few weeks ago with President Trump signing or rolling back the flood protection standards that President Obama had written. These were widely seen as commonsense standards to sort of require that future infrastructure, future federally-funded projects would be built to withstand future floods…that wasn’t safe from President Trump’s big deregulatory push. That shows the extent to which the administration is going to undo Obama.”
So what has the reaction been from Congress to this administration’s moves on the environment?
“You have to see it in the context of all the other things that the lawmakers are worrying about with the Trump administration,” says Cama. “There are a lot of very controversial things that the president is doing on defense, on international relations, on multiple fronts. And so it feels, sometimes, like lawmakers are distracted. But at the same time, the lawmakers who do have to worry about this on a daily basis — for example Senator Tom Carper, the top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee in the Senate, or Representative Raul Grijalva, the top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee in the House — are very, very alarmed.”
With all the regulatory rollbacks, there’s no shortage of work for Cama. With the amount of stories Cama has written over the summer, his e-mail inbox might be the hottest part of the universe right now. So what’s it been like covering this pivotal moment in U.S. environmental policies?
“It’s definitely a big shift,” he says. “It’s surreal sometimes to see the speed and efficiency with which all of this is happening…it’s definitely busy, but it helps to sort of keep in mind the big picture of what the Trump administration’s goals here are, and how this fits in with the overall ideas of increasing the use of the development, the use of fossil fuels and of domestic energy.”