OAKLAND, CAWhile partisan rancor surrounded last week’s Senate confirmation of Scott Pruitt, the Trump administration’s pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), reformers on both sides of the political divide should be able find agreement on at least some of the changes that would improve federal environmental policy. To help identify common ground and bridge the partisan gap, the Oakland-based Independent Institute has just released “Five Ways Trump Can Improve Environmental Policy,” by Research Fellow Ryan M. Yonk.
The second in Independent’s new Executive Summary series, it explains policy reforms that would greatly improve the nation’s laws regarding air quality, water quality, endangered species, the federal permitting process, and energy policy.
Together the five reforms would protect natural resources while strengthening the legal and market institutions vital to the flourishing of America’s social and economic environment. They include the following steps:
- Streamline compliance with the Clean Water Act by returning that law’s applicability to only “navigable waters” (not shallow wetlands and tributaries), as was stated in the legislation’s original text.
- Reduce unnecessary paperwork by eliminating the mandate that applicants for various permits related to federal lands, funding, or agencies conduct their own environmental assessments for each and every policy alternative imaginable, even when the impact of an alternative would be negligible and even when other parties’ studies would suffice.
- Improve the Endangered Species Act by fostering Stewardship Incentives Programs that reward landowners who have endangered species on their property and ending current policies that drive a wedge between species and property owners.
- Make the Clean Air Act more transparent by requiring the EPA to assess and publicize the social and economic impacts of their rulemaking and enforcement decisions.
- Reduce waste by eliminating the unnecessary and unfair, corporate-welfare subsidies for politically favored companies and technologies in the energy industry.
Along with their environmental benefits, these reforms would reduce political cronyism and help make policymaking more decentralized, pragmatic, effective, and intellectually honest.
Ryan M. Yonk, PhD, is the co-author of Nature Unbound: Bureaucracy vs. the Environment and a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, a non-partisan research and educational organization that promotes the power of independent thinking to boldly advance peaceful, prosperous, and free societies grounded in a commitment to human worth and dignity. For more information, visit www.independent.org. Media inquiries: Rob Ade at (Rade@independent.org) or (510) 632-1366 x114.