Poisoning America: The Trump Administration’s Regulatory Shell Game

23 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2020 Last revised: 28 Oct 2021

Date Written: September 30, 2020


This Article, written as part of a conference honoring Professor Richard Stewart on his 50 years as a legal academic, focuses on the inconsistent manner in which the Trump Administration has dealt with three of the most important conceptual issues that are central to the design of environmental policy: cost-benefit analysis, federalism, and the treatment of dirty, old sources of pollution. It has acted in a patently inconsistent way in different proceedings, embracing co-benefits in some cases and decrying their use in others; extolling the virtues of state decision-making in some cases and running roughshod over such decision-making in others; taking extreme actions to protect existing, dirty sources in some cases, and celebrating their replacement in others. The Trump Administration has simply taken whichever side of each of these arguments would advance its deregulatory policies. Though inconsistencies across different regulations — as opposed to inconsistencies within a single regulation — have not been a core concern of the Administrative Procedure Act, its prohibition on “arbitrary and capricious” agency action is sufficiently capacious to embrace egregious actions of this type.

Keywords: Environmental Law, Cost-Benefit Analysis, Federalism, Regulatory Affairs, Deregulation, Administrative Law

JEL Classification: K20, K23, K30, K32

Suggested Citation

Revesz, Richard L., Poisoning America: The Trump Administration’s Regulatory Shell Game (September 30, 2020). NYU Environmental Law Journal, NYU Law and Economics Research Paper No. 20-49, NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3702628 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3702628

Richard L. Revesz (Contact Author)

New York University School of Law ( email )

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