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A coalition of organizations has sued the Trump administration over the president’s executive order requiring agencies to repeal two existing regulations for each new regulation it puts in place.
Washington-based consumer advocacy group Public Citizen Inc., New York-based environmental nongovernmental organization The Natural Resources Defense Council and the Washington-based Communications Workers of America labor union sued the administration Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, asking the court to stop the administration from implementing and enforcing the Jan. 30 executive order.
“President Trump’s order would deny Americans the basic protections they rightly expect,” Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement. “New efforts to stop pollution don’t automatically make old ones unnecessary. When you make policy by tweet, it yields irrational rules. This order imposes a false choice between clean air, clean water, safe food and other environmental safeguards.”
The executive order states that an agency may issue a new regulation only if it rescinds at least two existing regulations to offset the costs of the new regulation. It directs agencies to identify at least two existing regulations to repeal for every new regulation proposed or issued and to promulgate regulations during fiscal year 2017 that, together with repealed regulations, have combined incremental costs of $0 or less.
“The executive order mandates that, when implementing the command to repeal at least two rules for each new one, agencies must focus on costs while ignoring benefits,” the plaintiffs said in the lawsuit. “Indeed, the executive order directs agencies to disregard the benefits of new and existing rules, including benefits to consumers, to workers, to people exposed to pollution, and to the economy, even when the benefits far exceed costs. The executive order’s direction to federal agencies to zero out costs to regulated industries, while entirely ignoring benefits to the Americans whom Congress enacted these statutes to protect, will force agencies to take regulatory actions that harm the people of this nation.”
Repealing two regulations to adopt one new one, based solely on a directive to impose zero net costs and without considering benefits, is “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion and not in accordance with law,” according to the lawsuit.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the lawsuit “presumes a lot of outcomes that are widely inaccurate” during a Wednesday afternoon press briefing.
“The bottom line is that overregulation has stemmed economic growth and job creation,” he said. “Reviewing those to make sure that they are meeting their intent and not stifling job creation at the expense of whatever they were intended to do is something that should be smart and welcome by everybody. It makes a ton of assumptions that call for speculation on what may or may not happen in the future. It's just subjective at best and doesn't have any basis in fact.”
But the lawsuit “presumes a lot of outcomes that are precisely what Trump’s regulatory executive order intends,” Public Citizen President Robert Weissman said in a statement following the press conference.
“If the White House is surprised about what the Trump regulatory executive order will mean in practical terms, it might have been helpful for it to have considered the stakes before issuing the executive order,” he said. “Now would be a good time to revoke it.”
The unconventional presidential election campaign of Donald Trump yielded numerous policy pledges that could have direct and indirect effects on people and organizations in the business of managing risk.