Trump tells EPA to ease air rules
Directive specifies goal of promoting job creation
WASHINGTON — President Trump’s latest effort to boost the nation’s manufacturing sector is an industry-friendly rewrite of air quality regulations he says pose “unnecessary and outdated barriers to growth.”
But environmental advocates warn it would be another damaging step by an administration obsessed with deregulation at the expense of hard-fought public health protections.
The proposed loosening of air quality standards came in the form of a directive Trump issued Thursday instructing the EPA to work with states that have metro areas which failed to attain clean air standards. The president’s primary aim, the directive states, is “promoting domestic manufacturing and job creation.”
Dozens of communities across the country fail to meet Clean Air Act standards for at least one of six key pollutants — ground-level ozone (smog), particulate matter (soot or smoke), carbon monoxide, lead, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide — according to the EPA.
Building or expanding major projects, such as highways and manufacturing plants, in these “non-attainment” areas requires extra time and cost to make sure the increased industrial activity won’t worsen air quality. And states with non-attainment areas have to file plans with the EPA to show how they’re confronting the problem, a review process that can take years.
Trump’s directive orders the EPA to work with states to expedite those approvals and instructs the agency to consider whether the current process “should be revised or rescinded ... to provide states with additional implementation flexibility.”
“These actions are intended to ensure that EPA carries out its core missions of protecting the environment and improving air quality in accord with statutory requirements, while reducing unnecessary impediments to new manufacturing and business expansion essential for a growing economy,” the president said in a statement accompanying the order.
The directive comes at a time when EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has been under increasing bipartisan fire on Capitol Hill for a number of management missteps, spending decisions and potential ethical conflicts.
The president has staunchly defended Pruitt, applauding how aggressively the EPA is rolling back regulations and promoting economic growth.
In the 14 months he’s been the nation’s top environmental rulemaker, he has rolled back the Clean Power Plan and helped convince the president to back out of the Paris Accord on climate change.
Trump’s vow to bring back coal, important in such mining states as West Virginia, have been buoyed by Pruitt.
President Trump has defended EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt for rolling back regulations and promoting economic growth. ANDREW HARNIK/AP