President-elect Trump’s pledge to “drain the swamp” in Washington struck a chord with millions of Americans and helped propel him to his stunning election as the nation’s 45th president.
Trump can start by reversing many of the laws the Obama administration created on its own, in its serial abuse of executive authority. Unable to get Congress to enact his environmental and energy policies, Obama had federal agencies concoct regulations that accomplished the same thing and he bound the U.S. to self-inflicted wounds via an international climate agreement.
Trump has pledged to tackle these abuses, and Obama’s unilateral actions are vulnerable to Trump’s own administrative counter-measures. It’s a game two can play. Here’s where Trump can start:
Clean Power Plan: After failing to pass cap-and-trade legislation through Congress, Obama had his political appointees at the EPA slap coal-fired power plants with greenhouse-gas-emission limits they knew the industry couldn’t meet—the Clean Power Plan, Obama called it. In doing so, EPA usurped the states’ role in regulating electricity markets within their boundaries, and even commandeered the states to enforce its new policy. The power grab is on hold by the Supreme Court pending the outcome of lawsuits filed by 27 states and the energy industry. Trump has said that the Clean Power Plan must go, and his Justice Department could ask that the case be dismissed, sending the rule back to EPA, where it could be rewritten and defanged.
Paris Climate Change Agreement: The December 2015 U.N.-sponsored Paris climate change agreement is the latest effort by transnational bureaucrats, environmentalists and purveyors of green energy to entangle the U.S. in a global commitment to abandon fossil fuels. It also entails a substantial transfer of wealth from American taxpayers into the waiting hands of Third World potentates to assist the latter in various schemes to combat climate change.
During the campaign, Trump vowed to withdraw the U.S. from this scam. It will send an unmistakable message that the U.S. — the world’s largest producer of natural gas and fastest-growing producer of oil — intends to use its vast energy resources as befits a country that’s serious about its global role and the economic well-being of its people.
Waters of the United States: The Obama administration is firmly committed to putting unelected and unaccountable Washington bureaucrats — working hand in glove with green activists — in control land- and water-use decisions throughout the country.
Under the guise of “clarifying” EPA’s regulatory authority over certain bodies of water under the Clean Water Act, EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers devised regulations that will bring millions of acres of private land under federal jurisdiction. Obama’s “Waters of the United States” rule will impose federal zoning on farms, ranches, orchards and other private property from coast to coast. WOTUS is on hold nationwide pending the outcome of a slew of lawsuits filed against it, and the case could come before the Supreme Court after Trump takes office. President Trump’s Justice Department can cease defending WOTUS in court, sending the rule back to EPA for a rewrite that would effectively nullify the power grab.
Environmental Protection Agency: Accustomed to issuing rules and regulations with the force of law behind them, EPA has become a de facto lawmaking body (minus the accountability such bodies usually have). With its disregard for standard administrative procedures, its misuse of science to forward its regulatory agenda, and its funneling of taxpayers’ money to political cronies on the outside, EPA has become a state within a state. The agency is too institutionally corrupt to be reformed.
Congress didn’t create EPA — President Nixon brought it into being by a 1970 executive order. Trump can dismantle it with his own executive order.
Trump has already expressed interest in devolving EPA’s functions to state environmental agencies. It’s an idea whose time has come. Appointing Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a relentless EPA critic, to head the agency bodes well for change.
Draining Washington’s swamp will be a messy business. Those creatures that have grown fat and happy off the swamp’s corruption will scream bloody murder at the mere thought of losing their power and privileges. This is a fight Trump should relish.
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