- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has decided to ditch a congressionally mandated review of potentially dangerous chemicals already in use in the U.S., according to the Chicago Tribune. Instead, it will implement a more limited process through which it will examine those substances in production, and not yet on the market or, in some cases, imported.
- This departure from what President Obama proposed during his time in office will exclude from review "millions of tons" of asbestos-containing material that has been put in place between 1970 and 2016, flame retardants and other toxins that provide Americans with the majority of exposures.
- Some critics have charged the Trump administration with trading the safety of those who have exposure to these chemicals — firefighters, construction workers, residents of buildings where the most dangerous substances are used — in return for being able to maintain a cozy relationship with the chemical industry. The EPA, led by Trump appointee Scott Pruitt, said a review of chemicals currently in use falls outside the original mandate.
Also a target of the White House and the Pruitt-led EPA is the controversial Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule. Just after his inauguration, President Trump executed an executive order requesting that the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers either repeal or revise the law, which was developed during an attempt to make clear which waters fell under the protection of the 1972 Clean Water Act. Since its introduction, many developers and others in the construction industry have contested the rule, which they say gives the EPA control over bodies of water as small as those that form in a ditch after a rainfall.
At the end of June, the EPA, under the leadership of Trump appointee Scott Pruitt, proposed a rule that would repeal WOTUS altogether and restore the previous law. The public comment period was supposed to end on Aug. 28 but was extended to Sept. 27.
According to a report from Phys.org, the Trump administration's justification for rescinding WOTUS "inappropriately" excluded wetlands information from its decision-making process. Excluding this data reportedly led to a 90% decline in the benefits associated with the Obama-era WOTUS rule, skewing the cost-benefit figures in the new administration's favor.