March 28, 2017 – This is the latest update of news media items or news releases identifying or discussing water-related policies or actions under the Donald Trump administration. Collection of these items began in November 2016 (with one mid-September 2016 item added after the collection began); items are listed from oldest to newest. Items are added to this post as they are discovered. All title hyperlinks were functional at the time of posting, but there’s no guarantee that they will remain so permanently.
For most items, a brief summary of the item or other explanatory information is provided in brackets [ ]. Quotation marks indicate an excerpt from the original article.
The Virginia Water Resources Research Center and its Water Central News Grouper are dedicated to providing Virginia citizens with non-partisan information, and we will make every effort to do that in this ongoing blog post. We recognize, though, that some items to which this post may contain information or statements that are non-balanced or partisan; in those cases, we either failed to recognize the non-partisan information, or we decided the item was sufficiently informative overall.
If this blog page proves valuable to readers, we hope to continue it indefinitely, including for future administrations.
ITEMS LIST BEGINS BELOW
What Do the Presidential Candidates Know about Science? Clinton, Trump, [Johnson], and Stein answer 20 top questions about science, engineering, technology, health and environmental issues, Scientific American, 9/23/16. [Excerpt: “The candidates of the two major parties—Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump—provided answers to 20 questions about the most important science-based issues the U.S. faces in coming years. Green Party candidate Jill Stein and Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson answered the questions as well. The questions were developed and refined by dozens of scientific organizations representing more than 10 million scientists and engineers after a crowd-sourcing effort led and coordinated by ScienceDebate.org.” The 20 questions address the following 20 general topics (bolding added in this post to topics mostly directly relating to water): 1. innovation; 2. research; 3. climate change; 4. biodiversity; 5. the Internet; 6. mental health; 7. energy; 8. education; 9. public health; 10. water; 11. nuclear power; 12. food; 13. global challenges; 14. regulations; 15. vaccination; 16. space; 17. opioids; 18. ocean health; 19. immigration; 20. scientific integrity.]
Here Is What Donald Trump Wants To Do In His First 100 Days, NPR (National Public Radio), 11/9/16. [From the article, following are four water-related items (or items affecting energy, which in turn affect water) that Mr. Trump pledged, in an October 2016 speech in Gettysburg, Penn., to begin taking on his first day in office: “FIFTH, I will lift the restrictions on the production of $50 trillion dollars’ worth of job-producing American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal. SIXTH, lift the Obama-Clinton roadblocks and allow vital energy infrastructure projects, like the Keystone Pipeline, to move forward. SEVENTH, cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs and use the money to fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure. …I will work with Congress to introduce the following broader legislative measures and fight for their passage within the first 100 days of my Administration:..American Energy & Infrastructure Act. Leverages public-private partnerships, and private investments through tax incentives, to spur $1 trillion in infrastructure investment over 10 years….”]
S&T [Science and Technology] Policy and R&D [Research and Development] Funding: A Post-Election Analysis, American Academy for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), 11/14/16. [Excerpt: “After the Election: What Now for Science Funding and Policy?” was a one-hour Webinar held on November 14, 2016, with panelists Celeste Rohlfing of the AAAS; Bart Gordon, a former chair of House of Representatives’ Science and Technology Committee; and David Goldston, director of government affairs for the Natural Resources Defense Council. Viewing the Webinar requires registration at http://view6.workcast.net/register?pak=2704109997656236 (same link at the headline above).]
How Trump could dismantle current environmental policy, PBS NewsHour, 11/17/16. [Excerpt: “Donald Trump made it clear during his campaign that as president he would make substantial changes in climate policy. …William Brangham speaks with David Roberts of Vox about possible changes to energy policy under a Trump administration.”]
What A Trump Presidency Means For Water Management, Infrastructure, Water Online, 11/18/16.
Water Industry Eyes Infrastructure Investments In Trump Administration, Inside EPA, 11/18/16 (subscription required for access; trial subscription available). [Excerpt: “Water industry groups are reaching out to President-elect Donald Trump to urge his administration to support robust federal funding for water infrastructure investments and to explain their sector’s top water policy priorities, including preserving tax-exempt municipal bonds, ensuring water systems are resilient to extreme events and addressing lead pipes.”]
Trump promised California farmers more water. Can he deliver?, Sacramento Bee, 11/19/16. [Excerpt: “Two years after California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill designed to limit groundwater pumping, new wells are going in faster and deeper than ever in the San Joaquin Valley farm belt. Farmers say they have no choice given cuts in surface water deliveries. But the drilling has exacted a substantial human cost in some of California’s poorest rural communities.”]
Water Rule Rewrite by Trump Would Moot Lawsuits: Attorneys, Bloomberg Bureau of National Affairs, 11/29/16. [Excerpt: “Legal challenges to a major Clean Water Act rule [Clean Water Rule (RIN:2040-AF30), also known as the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule] could be rendered moot if the incoming Trump administration persuades the courts to send the regulation back for a rewrite, several water attorneys told Bloomberg BNA. …The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reviewing the rule, which it stayed last October. …During the past several days, environmental attorneys have discussed with Bloomberg BNA what options are available to the Trump administration if it decides not to defend the rule in the nearly a dozen lawsuits filed in federal appeals and district courts.”]
Rhetoric aside, removing climate science from NASA not likely, E&E News Climate Wire, 12/1/16 (subscription required for full article; trial subscriptions available). [This item is regarding comments by former U.S. Rep. Robert Walker of Pennsylvania, an adviser to the president-elect transition team, about moving climate research funding from the NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) to NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).]
Dec. 7-8, 2016, items on nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to be director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):
Scott Pruitt, Trump’s pick to head the EPA, has sued the EPA, USA Today, 12/7/16. [“Donald Trump tapped Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, as environmental groups and Democratic lawmakers denounced the selection of a state official who has sued the agency he is now slated to lead.”]
Trump Picks Scott Pruitt, Climate Change Denialist, to Lead E.P.A., New York Times, 12/7/16. [“Mr. Pruitt, a Republican, has been a key architect of the legal battle against Mr. Obama’s climate change policies, actions that fit with the president-elect’s comments during the campaign.”]
Donald Trump Taps Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to Lead EPA, Wall Street Journal, 12/7/16. [“President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday chose Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, according to a transition official, turning to a climate-change skeptic and sharp critic of the agency to take its helm. As the chief legal officer of a major oil and natural-gas producing state, Mr. Pruitt, a Republican, has led legal fights against some of President Barack Obama’s most significant environmental rules, and one of his major roles as EPA administrator would likely be to try to roll back those regulations.”]
Trump picks Oklahoma AG Pruitt to head EPA, The [Oklahoma City] Oklahoman, 12/7/16. [“President-elect Donald J. Trump tapped Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt on Wednesday to head the Environmental Protection Agency, a strong signal that the next administration will break from eight years of making new regulations on air and water pollution.”]
How far will Scott Pruitt take EPA regulatory reform?, PBS NewsHour, 12/8/16 (10 min./4 sec. video with transcript). [“President-elect Donald Trump has selected Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s attorney general and a critic of climate-change regulations, to head the EPA. Judy Woodruff sits down with Scott Segal of Bracewell and Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, to discuss whether Pruitt’s background suggests “radicalism” and the incoming administration’s promise of regulatory reform.”]
Dec. 13-14, 2016, items on nomination of U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Montana at large) to be secretary of the Department of the Interior:
Trump taps Montana congressman Ryan Zinke as interior secretary, Washington Post, 12/13/16.
Everything You Need to Know About Donald Trump’s Interior Secretary Pick, Ryan Zinke, ABC News, 12/14/16.
Donald Trump Picks Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke as Interior Secretary, Wall Street Journal, 12/14/16.
Dec. 13-14, 2016, items on nomination of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry to be secretary of the Department of Energy:
Rick Perry, Ex-Governor of Texas, Is Trump’s Pick as Energy Secretary, New York Times, 12/13/16.
Trump taps former Texas Gov. Rick Perry to head Energy Department he once vowed to abolish, Washington Post, 12/14/16.
Supreme Court to hear case concerning Obama water rule, The Hill, 1/13/17. [“The Supreme Court agreed Friday [1/13/17] to hear a case over a specific issue arising from President Obama’s Clean Water Rule — the fight over the proper federal court venue for challenging the rule. The case, National Association of Manufacturers v. Department of Defense, does not concern the merits of the 2015 regulation, under which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers asserted jurisdiction over small waterways like ponds and streams. It is also known as the Waters of the United States rule. The dispute may soon become moot, since President-elect Donald Trump, who takes office in a week, has pledged to repeal the regulation at issue.”]
Jan. 18, 2017, items on testimony by Scott Pruitt, President Trump’s nominee to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee:
Trump’s EPA nominee [Scott Pruitt] faces climate, environment questions at Senate hearing, CBS NEWS, 1/18/17.
Trump EPA nominee Scott Pruitt says climate change is no hoax, Associated Press, as published by Denver Post, 1/18/17.
EPA nominee Pruitt contradicts Trump claim that climate change is a hoax, USA Today, 1/18/17.
Jan. 19, 2017, items on testimony by Rick Perry, President Trump’s nominee to head the Department of Energy, before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee:
Trump’s Energy Secretary nominee Rick Perry says he regrets call to eliminate agency, Chicago Tribune, 1/19/17.
Trump’s Energy Secretary Nominee “Regrets” Proposing Closure of Agency, VOA [Voice of America] News, 1/19/17.
Jan. 24, 2017, items on President Trump’s executive orders on January 24 regarding the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines:
Presidential Memorandum Regarding Construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, White House Office of the Press Secretary, 1/24/17.
Presidential Memorandum Regarding Construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, White House Office of the Press Secretary, 1/24/17.
Seeing impediments to jobs, Trump prioritizes pipelines over environmental protections, PBS NewsHour, 1/24/17. [“The Dakota Access Pipeline and Keystone XL Pipeline were put on hold during the Obama administration. But new executive orders by President Trump begin putting them back on track, as part of efforts to undo former President Obama’s legacy. How do these moves fit into the broader Trump agenda for energy and the environment? William Brangham talks with Valerie Volcovici of Reuters.”]
Trump Revives Keystone Pipeline Rejected by Obama, New York Times, 1/24/17. [“President Trump sharply changed the federal government’s approach to the environment on Tuesday as he cleared the way for two major oil pipelines that had been blocked, and set in motion a plan to curb regulations that slow other building projects. In his latest moves to dismantle the legacy of his predecessor, Mr. Trump resurrected the Keystone XL pipeline that had stirred years of debate, and expedited another pipeline in the Dakotas that had become a major flash point for Native Americans. He also signed a directive ordering an end to protracted environmental reviews.”]
Trump backs Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, BBC News, 1/24/17.
EPA: No ‘freeze’ on Flint funding under Trump, Detroit News, 1/26/17. [“President Donald Trump’s administration conducted a brief review of Environmental Protection Agency grants but never ordered a ‘freeze’ on new awards, a spokesman said Thursday (January 26), downplaying fears that pledged federal aid for the Flint water crisis could be jeopardized. New grant awards ‘were never stopped, actually,’ said Doug Ericksen of the EPA transition team. ‘Nothing was canceled, nothing was delayed.’ See also Trump administration tells EPA to freeze all grants, contracts, Washington Post, 1/23/17.
Trump Signs Executive Order to Curtail Regulations, NBC News, 1/30/17. [Excerpt: “President Donald Trump signed an executive order Monday (1/30/17) aimed at slashing federal regulations to help businesses, the latest in a string of presidential directives he has unveiled in his first 10 days in office. The ‘one in, two out’ plan requires federal agencies requesting new regulations to cut two existing regulations. Trump said the order will reduce regulatory burdens on the private sector, particularly small businesses.”]
Utilities: TVA president on the future of coal, nuclear and carbon policy under the Trump administration, E&E News “OnPoint,” 2/1/17, 6 min./52 sec. video (subscription required; trial subscriptions available). [Excerpt: “During today’s OnPoint, William Johnson, president and CEO of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), explains how coal could play a larger role in TVA’s future generation mix. He also talks about the three open positions on TVA’s board that are set to be filled by Trump nominees.”]
On eve of confirmation vote, judge orders EPA nominee to release thousands of emails, Washington Post, 2/16/17 [regarding an Oklahoma court ruling requiring Scott Pruitt to release e-mail communications between the Oklahoma attorney general and oil/gas companies].
Senate Confirms Scott Pruitt as E.P.A. Head, New York Times, 2/17/17.
Trump to roll back Obama’s climate, water rules through executive action, Washington Post, 2/20/17 [regarding expected action on the 2015 Clean Power Plan regulation of carbon emissions from existing power plants, and the 2015 Waters of the United States regulation on the jurisdiction of the federal Clean Water Act].
Feb. 21-22, 2017, articles on U.S. EPA Director Scott Pruitt’s first speech to EPA employees on February 21:
“We don’t have to choose” between jobs and the environment, Washington Post, 2/21/17.
EPA’s Pruitt urges officials to avoid regulatory “abuses” in first speech to staff, Fox News, 2/21/17.
Scott Pruitt makes first speech as EPA director, PBS NewsHour, 2/21/17.
Auto Makers Ask EPA’s Pruitt to Reverse Fuel-Economy, Emissions Decision, Wall Street Journal, 2/22/17. [This regards February 21, 2017, letters to U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt requesting that the agency rescind a January 13, 2017, determination by the Obama administration keeping in place until 2025 mileage and carbon-emission standards for cars and light trucks. For more on the January 2017 EPA determination, see Carbon Pollution Standards for Cars and Light Trucks to Remain Unchanged Through 2025, U.S. EPA News Release, 1/13/17.]
Trump administration freezes Obama rule on water protection, PBS NewsHour, 2/28/17; Trump Signs Executive Order to Begin Water Rule Rollback, NBC News, 3/1/17. [These articles report on an executive order by President Trump for the U.S. Attorney General to ask the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals to hold in abeyance the Waters of the United States regulation, known as the “Clean Water Rule,” and for the U.S. EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw and reconsider the rule. The executive order is available online at https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/02/28/presidential-executive-order-restoring-rule-law-federalism-and-economic. On February 28, the EPA issued a Notice of Intention to Review and Rescind or Revise the Clean Water Rule (available online at https://www.epa.gov/cleanwaterrule/notice-intention-review-and-rescind-or-revise-clean-water-rule). The rule, regarding what waters fall under the jurisdiction of the federal Clean Water Act, was issued by the Obama administration in May 2015, but in October 2015 the Appeals Court issued a stay on implementation of the rule, pending the outcome of several federal lawsuits challenging the U.S. EPA over the rule. For more on the latest developments on this rule, see the U.S. EPA Web site, “Clean Water Rule,” online at https://www.epa.gov/cleanwaterrule.]
Senate confirms Ryan Zinke as interior secretary, Washington Post, 3/1/17. [Excerpt: “The Senate on Wednesday [March 1, 2017] confirmed [U.S. Representative from Montana] Ryan Zinke’s nomination to lead the Interior Department by a 68 to 31 vote. Zinke will head a department that manages a fifth of the land in the United States, about 500 million surface acres, a total that doesn’t include millions more acres and natural resources underground.”]
Trump would cut Chesapeake Bay cleanup from $73M a year to $5M, [Newport News] Daily Press, 3/2/17. [This regards the Trump Administration’s budget proposal to reduce funding for the U.S. EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program.]
EPA Withdraws Information Request for the Oil and Gas Industry, U.S. EPA News Release, 3/2/17. [Excerpt: “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is withdrawing its request that owners and operators in the oil and natural gas industry provide information on equipment and emissions [particularly of methane] at existing oil and gas operations. The withdrawal is effective immediately, meaning owners and operators – including those who have received an extension to their due dates for providing the information – are no longer required to respond.” According to EPA Withdraws Methane Disclosure Rule For Oil and Gas Drillers, Triple Pundit, 3/3/17: “The EPA established these standards last year as part of the Barack Obama administration’s goal to reduce methane emissions by 40 to 45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025.”]
White House proposes steep budget cut to leading climate science agency [NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration], Washington Post, 3/3/17. [This regards a memo from the Office of Management and Budget obtained by the newspaper on reducing the budget of NOAA by 17 percent overall, with a possible 26-percent reduction to NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, 22 percent reduction to the agency’s satellite division, and elimination of the Sea Grant program.]
To fund border wall, Trump administration weighs cuts to Coast Guard, airport security, Washington Post, 3/7/17. [Regarding potential budget cuts to U.S. Coast Guard, Transportation Security Agency (TSA), and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to fund a wall at the border with Mexico. According to a draft Office of Management and Budget proposal obtained by The Washington Post, the Coast Guard’s 2017 budget would be cut from $9.1 billion to $7.8 billion (14 percent), and the TSA and FEMA budgets would be reduced about 11 percent each.]
Chief Environmental Justice Official at EPA Resigns, With Plea to Pruitt to Protect Vulnerable Communities, Inside Climate News, 3/9/17. [Mustafa Ali, the head of the environmental justice program at the U.S. EPA, resigned on March 8, 2017, with a letter to Director Scott Pruitt, urging the new agency head not to implement proposed budget cuts. The letter is available online at https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3514958-Final-Resignation-Letter-for-Administrator.html.]
EPA chief Scott Pruitt says carbon dioxide is not a primary contributor to global warming, CNBC, 3/9/17. EPA chief: Carbon dioxide not “primary contributor” to climate change, CNN, 3/10/17; EPA Head Scott Pruitt Doubts Basic Consensus On Climate Change, NPR, 3/9/17; Trump EPA chief Pruitt rejects link between carbon dioxide and climate change, Wall Street Journal, 3/10/17; EPA Chief Questions Agency’s Right to Regulate Carbon Emissions, Wall Street Journal, 3/9/17 [all regarding comments by U.S. EPA Director Scott Pruitt].
Pruitt: Congress should decide if agency can regulate CO2, E&E News Climate Wire, 3/13/17 (subscription required for full article; trial subscriptions available). [This regards comments by U.S. EPA director Scott Pruitt in an interview with CNBC on March 9, 2017, asserting that Congress should take up the question of whether the EPA has authority under the existing Clean Air Act to regulate carbon dioxide. The CNBC report is available at http://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/09/epa-chief-scott-pruitt.html.
Water, climate, and energy items in President Trump’s proposed budget blueprint for Fiscal Year 2018, sent to Congress on March 16, 2017; the document is available line (as PDF) at https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/whitehouse.gov/files/omb/budget/fy2018/2018_blueprint.pdf. One budget provision generating much news in the Virginia region was the proposed budget’s elimination of the U.S. EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program (annual budget of $73 million).
Big winners and big losers in Trump’s budget, Greenwire, 3/16/17 (subscription required for full article; trial subscriptions available).
Trump budget guts climate change programs, Greenwire, 3/16/17 (subscription required for full article; trial subscriptions available).
Trump proposes slashing DOE clean energy research, Greenwire, 3/16/17 (subscription required for full article; trial subscriptions available).
Trump Unveils ‘Hard Power’ Budget That Boosts Military Spending, National Public Radio (NPR), 3/16/17.
Trump budget cuts funding for EPA’s Chesapeake Bay program, Associated Press, as published by Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, 3/16/17.
Trump budget would slash funds for Chesapeake Bay cleanup from $73M a year to $0, Virginian-Pilot, 3/16/17.
Trump bid to axe Bay restoration funding draws fire; Budget outline would eliminate EPA Bay Program funding, slash other agencies that have contributed, Bay Journal, 3/17/17.
Trump budget axes funding for Chesapeake Bay cleanup, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 3/16/17.
Virginia Politics – Trump wants to end funding of the Chesapeake Bay cleanup. Here’s who’s fighting back, Washington Post, 3/18/17.
Chesapeake Bay funding, on Trump’s chopping block, pays for projects large and small, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 3/26/17.
Fate Of Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Unclear Under Trump, WBUR Boston, 3/28/17 (5 min./33 sec. audio segment).
March 28, 2017, executive order on climate/energy policies of the Obama Administration: On March 28, 2017, the Trump Administration issued an executive order affecting several energy and climate policies implemented by the Obama Administration, including most prominently the Clean Power Plan, issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in August 2015. The order, “Presidential Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth,” is available online at https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/03/28/presidential-executive-order-promoting-energy-independence-and-economi-1. The order’s actions include the following: reviewing the Clean Power Plan regulation; rescinding an August 2016 guidance on climate change issued by the Council on Environmental Quality; starting a 170-day process for each executive agency and department to identify regulations or policies that inhibit domestic energy production; stopping the use of estimates made during the Obama Administration of the social cost of greenhouse gases; rescinding a moratorium on coal leases on federal lands; ordering a review of regulations issued in November 2016 on methane releases from oil and gas production facilities; and rewriting a regulation issued in 2015 on hydraulic fracturing on federal and tribal lands.
Sources and additional news items related to this order:
“Clean Power Plan Hub,” E&E News, online at http://www.eenews.net/interactive/clean_power_plan (subscription required; trial subscriptions available).
Background Briefing on the President’s Energy Independence Executive Order, White House Press Secretary, 3/27/17.
What to Know About Trump’s Order to Dismantle the Clean Power Plan, New York Times, 3/27/17.
States vow to defend rule, E&E News, 3/28/17 (subscription required; trial subscriptions available).
Trump signs executive order rolling back Obama-era energy regs, Fox News, 3/28/17.
Trump launches aggressive campaign to dismantle Obama climate agenda; Barrasso: Trump climate rollback helps U.S. as an energy superpower [with U.S. Sen. John Barasso, R-Wyo.]; and “Difficult slog” ahead to undo Obama climate legacy, says former EPA chief [with former U.S. EPA Director Gina McCarthy] – all on PBS NewsHour, 3/28/17.
Trump signs order dismantling Obama-era climate policies, Reuters, 3/28/17.
Trump signs executive order to review Clean Power Plan, Utility Dive, 3/28/17.
Trump moves decisively to wipe out Obama’s climate-change record, Washington Post, 3/28/17.
The big announcement is over. What happens now?, E&E News/Climate Wire, 3/29/17 (subscription required; trial subscriptions available).