The Trump Administration and environmental policy: Reagan redux?

  • Jessica HejnyEmail author


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.


Environmental policy Trump Administration Partisanship and environment 


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Copyright information

© AESS 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental StudiesAmherst CollegeAmherstUSA

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