Destabilizing Environmental Regulation: The Trump Administration’s Concerted Attack on Regulatory Analysis

84 Pages Posted: 30 Jun 2020 Last revised: 6 Nov 2020

Date Written: February 20, 2020


Occasionally during his presidency, Trump has suggested that he cares deeply about clean air and water, even as he expresses deep skepticism about climate change. But the specifics of Trump’s deregulatory approach tell a different story. The Trump administration has undertaken a series of regulatory moves to weaken the analytical foundation for clean air and water regulations, thereby seeking to eliminate or undercut precisely those regulations that bring the biggest health benefits. The clean air regulations under the Clean Air Act, which account for the overwhelming majority of all quantified and monetized benefits of all federal regulation, are under particular threat.

Four specific analytical moves are particularly troubling: first, shifting focus to costs and ignoring benefits of regulation; second, erasing public health science; third, reviving discredited scientific models; and fourth, eliminating indirect benefits from regulatory impact analysis. Individually, each of these four strategies, if fully enacted, would significantly harm the health and welfare of Americans. Together, they threaten a truly monumental reshaping of environmental and public health protection in the United States. These four moves — manifested in rules currently proposed or already promulgated by the EPA and other agencies — represent a concerted attack on rational economic analysis of regulation that has received little comprehensive academic discussion date. When put together, these disparate deregulatory thrusts paint a picture of a truly monumental assault on rational policymaking.

Keywords: Deregulation, benefit-cost analysis, public health, environmental protections, regulatory impact analysis

JEL Classification: K23, K32, Q38, Q48, Q51, Q52, Q58

Suggested Citation

Revesz, Richard L., Destabilizing Environmental Regulation: The Trump Administration’s Concerted Attack on Regulatory Analysis (February 20, 2020). Ecology Law Quarterly, Vol. 47, 2020, NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 20-33, NYU Law and Economics Research Paper No. 20-49 , Available at SSRN:

Richard L. Revesz (Contact Author)

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States
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