U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20460
Submitted via regulations.gov
Docket No. EPA-HQ-OA-2017-0190
Re: Evaluation of Existing Regulations
One of the Trump Administration’s actions to dismantle our country’s regulatory apparatus, Executive Order 13777, Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda, requires federal agencies to evaluate existing regulations and recommend which of these regulations should be repealed, replaced, or modified. In light of this order, EPA is currently holding a “public” process to request input on such regulations.
Executive Order 13777 is unlawful. This order completely ignores the procedures contained in the laws that give federal agencies their authority to issue regulations. Federal laws such as the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act require the EPA to regulate air and water pollution for the purpose of protecting our public health and the environment; they do not authorize the EPA to weaken environmental protections. These laws expressly provide the factors that EPA must consider in its decision to regulate pollution, which do not include making regulations “less burdensome.” They also state when should the EPA revise them.
EPA must not roll back our hard-won environmental protections. Latinos are shouldering a disproportionate share of the harms caused by air and water pollution and benefit from these rules. Nearly half of Latinos live in counties where the air is unsafe to breathe because it exceeds ground-level ozone standards. Asthma rates in America have doubled in the past 30 years, and Latinos are 60 percent more likely to visit the hospital for asthma. Latinos are less likely to carry health insurance than any other minority group, which makes it very difficult for them to cope with pollution-related health problems.
Many of the most important environmental regulations that the EPA issued in recent years were promulgated to comply with legal obligations that the agency had ignored for decades. EPA must not weaken or rescind these protections. These regulations include, but are not limited to the following:
Clean Water Rule: This rule clarifies which streams and wetlands are protected under the Clean Water Act, which requires a permit if these waters are going to be polluted or destroyed. These standards help to protect our drinking water, preserve fish and wildlife habitat, and reduce the risk of flooding.
Clean Power Plan: This rule sets the first standards for carbon dioxide from existing power plants, one of the largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. The rule, which is set for implementation in 2022, will reduce carbon emissions, as well as conventional pollutants that cause smog and soot, in turn avoiding thousands of premature deaths, asthma attacks, heart attacks, and hospital visits.
Methane Rule: This rule sets the first standards for methane pollution from onshore oil and gas facilities and operations. The rule will also reduce hazardous air pollutants that cause asthma attacks, emergency room visits, and hospital admissions.
Coal Water Toxics Rule: This rule sets the first federal limits on the levels of toxic water pollutants discharged from coal plants. This rule will reduce the discharge of toxic metals and other pollutants discharged by power plants into our waterways, resulting in cleaner water and benefits for Americans throughout the country.
Ground Level Ozone Standard: This rule strengthens the nationwide smog pollution standards from 75 to 70 parts per billion following 9 years of scientific review and expert testimony from medical experts and public health advocates, which has documented the significant harm the 75 ppb standard posed to public health, particularly to vulnerable populations like children, seniors, and people with severe respiratory illnesses.
Regional Haze Rule: This rule helps to reduce the haze in national parks and wilderness areas by reducing ozone, nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, carbon dioxide, mercury, and other gas particulates emitted from numerous polluting sources. The rule protects clear views in our national parks and improves public health.
Startup, Shutdown, and Malfunction Rule: This rule ensures that states issue plans to require industrial facilities to comply with air pollution rules during startup, shutdown, and malfunction periods. Air pollution during these periods has serious health effects for communities living in proximity to these polluting sources and it also contributes to smog in communities downwind.
Mercury and Air Toxics Standard: This rule sets limits on mercury and other toxic air pollutants from power plants. These standards, which many power plants have already complied with, are avoiding asthma attacks and saving thousands of lives.
Emission Standards for Light Duty Vehicles and Standards for Heavy Duty Trucks: This rule, which EPA already found must not be weakened, reduces carbon pollution from transportation and our country’s dependence on oil, saving consumers money at the gas pump. In addition, California and other states that have adopted the same standards as California must be allowed to continue to enforce their own rules. Finally, the Phase 2 heavy truck standards for Model Years 2021-2027, which are the first standards for trailers, will result in technological advances in fuel economy and save businesses money.
Agricultural Worker Protection Standard: This rule will reduce the risk of injury and pesticide poisoning by millions of agricultural workers and pesticides handlers who work in farms, forests, nurseries, and greenhouses. Fewer pesticide exposure incidents will result in healthier workforce as well as avoided lost wages, medical bills and absences from work and school.
EPA must continue to execute its mission to protect our air and water, and should not slash budgets for critical programs that benefit people of color and low-income communities.