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Dec 08 2016

What to Expect from a Trump EPA

December 8, 2016 (Houston)

James SmithBy James Smith – “Environmental Alert” (Schirrmeister, Diaz-Arrastia, Brem LLP)

This is the first in a series of Alerts that will discuss the expected impacts of a Trump Administration.

I am also updating my presentation, “The Fundamentals of Environmental Enforcement” to reflect these impacts.  I offer, without charge, this presentation to Houston area companies.  It gives real world examples of how environmental laws are enforced in civil and criminal cases.  I give practical suggestions for minimizing enforcement risks.

The presentation is designed for non-lawyers, although law department members will benefit from it.  It lasts about an hour, including time for questions and comments, and will work in a “lunch and learn” or comparable setting.

If you are interested in scheduling the presentation or for more information, provide your contact information to jsmith@sdablaw.com.

Key Regulatory Changes

I see an emerging consensus that a Trump EPA will:

  1. Abolish the Clean Power Plan;
  2. Re-write the definition of “Waters of the United States;” and
  3. Scale back limits on mercury emissions.

Some uncertainty exists regarding the timing and procedures, but few doubt that the new administration will eventually be able to accomplish these goals.  Theoretically, the quickest path to achieving them is with the help of legislation, although Congressional action is never certain.  The slower path would involve the promulgation of new proposed rules; and then the notice, comment, and finalization of the rules; followed by the inevitable court challenges.

Keep Track of State Developments

The law allows states to adopt more stringent regulations than what federal law requires.  For example, some states have already committed to regulations consistent with the Clean Power Plan, and those states will be able to enforce those regulations, even if the regulations are no longer federally required.  I also expect more states to allege that emissions from outside of their borders are contributing to their air quality challenges, and these states will look for ways to raise these allegations.

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