Advertisement

The Trump Administration and environmental policy: Reagan redux?

  • Jessica Hejny
Article

Abstract

Since assuming office, President Trump has initiated a broad rollback of President Obama’s environmental policies. Political commentators have already drawn comparisons between the Reagan and Trump Administrations’ approaches to the environment given their shared explicit attacks on environmental policy. In this paper, I probe this historical resonance through a comparison of Trump’s and Reagan’s environmental records, and find continuities in their ideologies and actions. Despite the Reagan Administration’s efforts, environmental laws and institutions were not dismantled during the 1980s due to the countervailing forces of congress, the public, and environmental advocacy groups. But, while environmental laws and institutions may have been resilient in the past, contemporary political conditions call into question this resilience. Partisan polarization in both congress and the public and changes in the Republican Party will likely preclude an environmental backlash similar to that experienced by Reagan. Instead, environmental advocacy groups and the courts will function as the primary bulwarks against environmental policy retrenchment. Despite their efforts, the Trump Administration is likely to have significant impacts on environmental policy through executive action.

Keywords

Environmental policy Trump Administration Partisanship and environment 

References

  1. Akin S (2017) Some GOP lawmakers push back against EPA cuts. Roll Call. https://www.rollcall.com/politics/gop-lawmakers-environmental-protection-agency
  2. Arrieta-Kenna R (2017) After public outcry, the Interior Department won’t eliminate any national monuments. Vox. https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2017/8/24/16199048/interior-department-national-monuments
  3. Barber M, McCarty N (2013) Causes and consequences of polarization. In: Mansbridge J, Martin CJ (eds) Negotiating agreement in politics. American Political Science Association Task Force Report, pp 19–53Google Scholar
  4. Bravender R (2017) State lawyers use Pruitt’s playbook against him – by suing. E&E News. https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060059026
  5. Broder JM (2010) Climate change is Tea Party article of faith. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/21/us/politics/21climate.html
  6. Budge I, Hofferbert RI (1990) Mandates and policy outputs: US Party platforms and federal expenditures. American Political Science Review 84(1):111–131.  https://doi.org/10.2307/1963632 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cahlink G (2017) Usually fractious Freedom Caucus works quietly on energy. E&E News. https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060054645
  8. Carswell C (2017) Scott Pruitt isn’t the first administrator hostile to the EPA’s mission. High Country News. http://www.hcn.org/issues/49.5/scott-pruitt-isnt-the-first-administrator-hostile-to-the-epas-mission
  9. Center for Biological Diversity (2017) Trump lawsuit tracker. http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/trump_lawsuits/
  10. Davenport C (2016) Rick Perry, Ex-Governor of Texas, is Trump’s pick as energy secretary. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/13/us/politics/rick-perry-energy-secretary-trump.html
  11. Davenport C (2017a) E.P.A. workers try to block Pruitt in show of defiance. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/16/us/politics/scott-pruitt-environmental-protection-agency.html
  12. Davenport C (2017b) With E.P.A. cuts, states would lose help in emergencies. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/16/us/politics/trump-environmental-protection-agency-budget-cuts.html
  13. Davenport C, Fandos N (2017) As Interior Secretary swaggers through parks, his staff rolls back regulations. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/25/us/politics/interior-secretary-zinke-staff-conservation-regulations.html
  14. Davenport C, Lipton E (2016) Trump Picks Scott Pruitt, climate change denialist, to lead E.P.A. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/07/us/politics/scott-pruitt-epa-trump.html
  15. Davenport C, Lipton E (2017a) How G.O.P. leaders came to view climate change as fake science. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/03/us/politics/republican-leaders-climate-change.html
  16. Davenport C, Lipton E (2017b) Scoett Pruitt is carrying out his EPA agenda in secret, critics say. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/11/us/politics/scott-pruitt-epa.html
  17. Daynes BW, Sussman G (2010) White House politics and the environment: Franklin D. Roosevelt to George W. Bush. Texas A&M University Press, College Station, TXGoogle Scholar
  18. Dennis B (2017a) EPA to set aside $12 million for buyouts in the coming months. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/05/18/epa-to-set-aside-12-million-for-buyouts-in-coming-months
  19. Dennis B (2017b) EPA head defends White House’s plans for massive cuts to his agency. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/06/15/epa-head-defends-white-houses-plan-for-massive-cuts-to-his-agency
  20. Dennis B, Eilperin J (2017) Trump’s budget takes a sledgehammer to the EPA. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/budget-reflects-trumps-vow-to-cut-epa-in-almost-every-form
  21. Dunlap RE (1987) Public opinion on the environment in the Reagan era: polls, pollution, and politics revisited. Environment 29:6–11Google Scholar
  22. Egan PJ, Mullin M (2016) Trump has picked the most conservative EPA leader since 1981. This one will face much less resistance. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/12/13/trump-has-picked-the-most-conservative-epa-leader-since-1981-this-one-will-face-much-less-resistance
  23. Egan PJ, Mullin M (2017) Climate change: US public opinion. Annual Review of Political Science 20(1):209–227.  https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-polisci-051215-022857 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Eilperin J, Cameron D (2017) How Trump is rolling back Obama’s legacy. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/trump-rolling-back-obama-rules/
  25. Eilperin J, Mooney C, Mufson S (2017) New EPA documents reveal even deeper proposed cuts to staff and programs. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/03/31/new-epa-documents-reveal-even-deeper-proposed-cuts-to-staff-and-programs
  26. Fears D (2017) Zinke defends huge job cuts at Interior: ‘this is what a balanced budget looks like.’ The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/06/20/zinke-defends-trumps-sharp-cuts-at-interior-this-is-what-a-balanced-budget-looks-like
  27. Flavelle C, Migliozzi B, Murphy P (2017) Trump’s environmental spending cuts could cost Republican districts billions. Bloomberg Politics. https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2017-climate-contracts/
  28. Fountain H (2016) Trump’s climate contrarian: Myron Ebell takes on the E.P.A. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/12/science/myron-ebell-trump-epa.html
  29. Gerring J (2001) Party ideologies in America, 1828–1996. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  30. Grandoni D (2017) The Energy 202: The EPA just got its second most important person after Scott Pruitt. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/the-energy-202/2017/11/10/the-energy-202-the-epa-just-got-its-second-most-important-person-after-scott-pruitt/5a048e7330fb045a2e002edc/
  31. Guskin E (2017) By the numbers, Trump’s big environmental regulation rollback is all kinds of unpopular. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/03/29/trumps-rollback-of-obamas-environmental-legacy-is-all-kinds-of-unpopular
  32. Hare C, Poole KT (2014) The polarization of contemporary American politics. Polity 46(3):411–429.  https://doi.org/10.1057/pol.2014.10 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Helvarg, D (2005) Bush: the environmental record. Earth Island J Winter: 25–30Google Scholar
  34. Henry D (2017) Senate confirms top air regulator at EPA. The Hill. http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/359593-senate-confirms-top-air-regulator-at-epa
  35. How the Times compared E.P.A. enforcement across three administrations. (2017) The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/10/us/politics/epa-enforcement-methodology.html
  36. Kaplan S, Lipton E (2017) Chemical industry ally faces critics in bid for top E.P.A. post. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/19/science/epa-chemical-industry-dourson.html
  37. Keele D, Malmsheimer RW (2016) Is the ninth circuit a liberal environmental activist court? Justice System Journal 37(2):115–134.  https://doi.org/10.1080/0098261X.2015.1111782 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Klyza CM, Sousa DJ (2013) American environmental policy: beyond gridlock. MIT Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  39. Kovacic WE (1991) The Reagan judiciary and environmental policy: the impact of appointments to the federal courts of appeals. Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review 18(4):669–713Google Scholar
  40. Kraft ME (2000) U.S. environmental policy and politics: from the 1960s to the 1990s. Journal of Policy History 12(1):17–42.  https://doi.org/10.1353/jph.2000.0006 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Kraft ME, Vig NJ (1984) Environmental policy in the Reagan presidency. Political Science Quarterly 99(3):415–439.  https://doi.org/10.2307/2149941 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Layzer JA (2009) Environmental policy from 1980–2008: the politics of prevention. In: Glenn BJ, Teles SM (eds) Conservatism and American political development. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 223–260.  https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195373929.003.0008 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Layzer JA (2012) Open for business: Conservatives' opposition to environmental regulation. MIT Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  44. Lavelle M (2017) Partisan divide in congress wider than ever on environmental issues, groups says. Inside Climate News. https://insideclimatenews.org/news/23022017/congress-environmental-climate-change-league-conservation-voters
  45. Leavenworth S (2017) Trump’s ‘drill, baby, drill’ energy policies are being met by ‘sue, baby, sue.’ The Miami Herald. http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article161072259.html
  46. Leber R (2017) These Republicans are pretty upset about Trump’s EPA budget. Mother Jones. http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2017/06/republicans-pruitt-epa-budget-trump/
  47. Leven R (2017) “Do the opposite thing you did 18 month ago”: EPA staffers on the agency in the Trump era. Vox. https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2017/11/9/16619988/scott-pruitt-epa-dysfunction-staff
  48. Lipton E (2017) Why has the E.P.A. shifted on toxic chemicals? An industry insider helps call the shots. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/21/us/trump-epa-chemicals-regulations.html
  49. Lipton E, Ivory D (2017) Under Trump, E.P.A. has slowed actions against polluters, and put limits on enforcement officers. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/10/us/politics/pollution-epa-regulations.html
  50. McCarty N, Poole KT, Rosenthal H (2006) Polarized America: the dance of ideology and unequal riches. MIT Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  51. Moser C, Koronowski R (2017) The climate denier caucus in Trump’s Washington. Think Progress. https://thinkprogress.org/115th-congress-climate-denier-caucus-65fb825b3963/
  52. Mufson S (2017b) Polluter fines drop 60 percent under Trump. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/08/10/polluter-fines-drop-60-percent-under-trump
  53. Pew Research Center (2016) Top voting issues in 2016 election. 2016 campaign: strong interest, widespread dissatisfaction. http://www.people-press.org/2016/07/07/4-top-voting-issues-in-2016-election/#
  54. Pomper GM (1967) “If elected, I promise”: American party platforms. Midwest Journal of Political Science 11(3):318–352.  https://doi.org/10.2307/2108616 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Pomper GM, Lederman SS (1980) Elections in America: control and influence in democratic politics. Longman Publishing Group, New York, NYGoogle Scholar
  56. Puko T (2017) Hundreds of EPA workers leave in recent days. The Wall Street Journal. https://www.wsj.com/articles/hundreds-of-epa-workers-leave-in-recent-days-1504660207
  57. Reinhold R (1981) Regan aides fail to mollify worried scientists. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1981/10/27/science/reagan-aides-fail-to-mollify-worried-scientists.html
  58. Republican Party Platform, 1976Google Scholar
  59. Republican Party Platform, 1980Google Scholar
  60. Republican Party Platform, 1988Google Scholar
  61. Republican Party Platform, 1992Google Scholar
  62. Republican Party Platform, 1996Google Scholar
  63. Republican Party Platform, 2000Google Scholar
  64. Republican Party Platform, 2004Google Scholar
  65. Republican Party Platform, 2008Google Scholar
  66. Republican Party Platform, 2012Google Scholar
  67. Republican Party Platform, 2016Google Scholar
  68. Rucker P, Dawsey J, Parker A (2017) ‘He’s not weak, is he?’: Inside Trump’s quest to alter the judiciary. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/hes-not-weak-is-he-inside-trumps-quest-to-alter-the-judiciary/2017/12/19/b653e568-e4de-11e7-833f-155031558ff4_story.html
  69. Savage C (2017) Trump is rapidly reshaping the judiciary. Here’s how. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/11/us/politics/trump-judiciary-appeals-courts-conservatives.html
  70. Shabecoff P (1981a) Deep cuts expected in ecology agencies. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1981/03/12/us/deep-cuts-expected-in-ecology-agencies.html
  71. Shabecoff P (1981b) New environmental chief vows to lift regulatory ‘overburden.’ The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1981/06/21/us/new-environmental-chief-vows-to-lift-regulatory-overburden.html
  72. Shabecoff P (1981c) Funds and staff for protecting environment may be halved. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1981/09/29/us/funds-and-staff-for-protecting-environment-may-be-halved.html
  73. Shabecoff P (1981d) 36% cut in budget reportedly urged for ecology unit. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1981/11/19/us/36-cut-in-budget-reportedly-urged-for-ecology.html
  74. Shabecoff P (1982a) U.S. environmental agency making deep staffing cuts. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1982/01/03/us/us-environmental-agency-making-deep-staffing-cuts.html
  75. Shabecoff P (1982b) Environmental chief claims a budget victory. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1982/10/03/us/environmental-chief-claims-a-budget-victory.html
  76. Shabecoff P (1983) Environmental agency: deep and persisting woes. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1983/03/06/us/environmental-agency-deep-and-persisting-woes.html
  77. Shabecoff P (1989) Reagan and environment: to many, a stalemate. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1989/01/02/us/reagan-and-environment-to-many-a-stalemate.html
  78. Shogren E (2017) Trump’s judges: A second front in the environmental onslaught. Yale Environment 360. http://e360.yale.edu/features/trumps-judges-the-second-front-in-an-environmental-onslaught
  79. Tabuchi H (2017) What’s at stake in Trump’s proposed E.P.A. cuts. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/10/climate/trump-epa-budget-cuts.html
  80. Tong S (2017) EPA attacks harken back to Reagan era. Marketplace. https://www.marketplace.org/2017/03/09/world/epa-attacks-harken-back-reagan-era
  81. Weisman S (1983) Watt quits post; president accepts with ‘reluctance.’ The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1983/10/10/us/watt-quits-post-president-accepts-with-reluctance.html
  82. Wenner LM (1982) The environmental decade in court. Indiana University Press, Bloomington, INGoogle Scholar
  83. Wenner LM, Ostberg C (1994) Restraint in environmental cases by Reagan-Bush judicial appointees. Judicature 77:217–220Google Scholar
  84. Wood BD, Waterman RW (1991) The dynamics of political control of the bureaucracy. Am Polit Sci Rev 85(3):801–828.  https://doi.org/10.2307/1963851 CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© AESS 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental StudiesAmherst CollegeAmherstUSA

Personalised recommendations