President Donald Trump touted his administration’s record of rolling back regulations and cutting red tape in a speech on the White House south lawn Thursday.
Trump said that before he came into office, “American workers were smothered by a merciless avalanche of wasteful and expensive and intrusive federal regulation. These oppressive burdens and mandates were a stealth tax on our people, slashing take-home pay, suppressing innovation, surging the cost of goods and shipping millions of American jobs overseas.”
“We’re here today to celebrate and expand our historic campaign to rescue American workers from job-killing regulations.” pic.twitter.com/FfI96DLbga
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) July 16, 2020
According to a White House fact sheet, U.S. federal agencies have taken more than seven deregulatory actions for each significant regulatory action, reducing regulatory costs by $50 billion. The administration is also focusing on reducing outdated regulations, increasing federal agency transparency, and aligning federal and state laws and regulations.
In February, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce led 45 organizations representing broad interests throughout the country in forming a coalition to back Trump’s proposed reforms to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Southern Environmental Law Center has sought an injunction in federal court blocking the Trump administration’s planned changes.
The White House said Wednesday that the administration is working to “modernize and accelerate environmental reviews under the NEPA, so that infrastructure can be built in a timely, efficient, and affordable manner,” while U.S. farmers would continue to gain from the reversal of the “burdensome” Waters of the United States rule introduced by the Obama administration.
NEW NEPA GOAL: 100% of environmental reviews completed in 2 years #NEPAModernization pic.twitter.com/X1bm5TphcC
— WHCEQ (@whceq) July 16, 2020
Environmental impact statements will have to be completed within two years, and environmental assessments within one year, in what the Trump administrations says are “common sense reforms” to “slash unnecessary government bureaucracy.” Currently, the average environmental impact statement is over 650 pages long, with federal agencies taking an average of four and a half years to conduct an environmental assessment, according to the White House.
“For the first time in 40 years, President Donald J. Trump is taking action to right-size the Federal Government’s environmental review process,” the White House said.
“Additionally, the rule will expand public participation and the involvement of Tribal governments in the NEPA process,” the Council on Environmental Quality said of the administration’s push to modernize.
Deregulation and the Cost of Red Tape
Deregulation benefits low-income households in particular, as they are disproportionately burdened by excessive red tape, the White House said. The fact sheet gave examples for the deregulation of prescription drugs and internet access, which helped the poorest Americans more than wealthier citizens. In addition, a council was set up to reduce regulations on affordable housing.
The Trump administration has also sought to replace Obama-era automobile fuel and efficiency standards with the Safer Affordable Fuel Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles rule, which the White House says will make cars more affordable for low-income Americans—cutting up to $2,200 off the price of a new car, according to the Council of Economic Advisers.
Deregulatory actions will also increase annual household income by $3,100 or more, the administration said.
At the macro scale, 20 of the deregulatory actions taken by the Trump administration are expected to save U.S. households and businesses some $220 billion per year, according to the White House, with the SAFE Vehicles rule alone increasing real household income by an estimated $53 billion per year over an eight-year period.
“The previous administration added over 16,000 pages of heavy-handed regulations to the federal register,” Trump said. “That’s why nothing got done. Under my administration we have removed nearly 25,000 pages of job-destroying regulations, more than any other president by far in the history of our country.”
Emel Akan contributed to this report.