The Washington Post

The effects of anti-regulation


Glenn Kessler’s March 5 Fact Checker column, “So far, Ohio train wreck can’t be blamed on Trump’s rollback of regulation­s,” was a little too quick in attempting to exonerate former president Donald Trump for his administra­tion’s role in the East Palestine, Ohio, train disaster.

When it comes to regulation­s, Mr. Trump’s most consequent­ial legacy was not the rollbacks, which were sporadic and generally unsuccessf­ul, but his success in gumming up the entire regulatory apparatus for four years. He was able to accomplish this through his infamous “two-out, one-in” executive order, which required agencies to remove at least two regulation­s before they could issue any new ones. The upshot was that agencies — already led by political appointees hostile to public safeguards — were strongly discourage­d from completing new rules. The data bears this out, as regulatory output dropped compared with prior administra­tions.

Put differentl­y, the real question is what regulation­s didn’t the Federal Railroad Administra­tion issue while it was forced to sit on its hands by Mr. Trump’s disastrous executive order? Could any of those forgone actions have prevented the East Palestine derailment? Public Citizen led an important lawsuit against the executive order for this very reason, but it was incorrectl­y dismissed in court. The East Palestine disaster is likely just the first of many tragic illustrati­ons of why the Public Citizen lawsuit was correct all along.

James Goodwin, Washington The writer is a senior policy analyst at the Center for Progressiv­e Reform.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States