With President-elect Donald Trump vowing to reverse a majority of the Obama administration’s environmental achievements over the past eight years, the current president has put forward an ambitious agenda to continue the legacy of a revitalized EPA.
Since the Nov. 8 general election, the White House has already banned all new oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Ocean for the next several years, halted government land leases for similar purposes in Colorado, canceled mining permits on 30,000 acres adjacent to Yellowstone National Park and increased regulations on methane gas emissions.
In addition, President Obama plans to push through finalizing new EPA regulations that require automobile manufacturers to increase their average vehicle’s fuel mileage to at least 50 miles per gallon for 2022–’25 models, and is considering the designation of three more national monuments in Utah, Arizona and Nevada.
The latter effort is being endorsed through a White House petition by conservationist group the Sierra Club, whose land protection program director, Athan Manuel, describes Obama’s environmental legacy as “incredible”.
Despite strong support from green-minded citizens and pro-environment groups, many of Obama’s executive actions can be reversed when Trump takes office in 2017 or through an act of Congress. Drilling bans and national monument designations, for example, could be reversed through legislation.
Internal Trump transition team documents also show that the incoming administration will overturn the Obama EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which regulates carbon emissions from energy-producing plants, and abandon federal protection of small bodies of water redefined in the Clean Water Act.
New regulations implemented by the Obama White House will have to be reversed within 60 legislative days of their enactment by congressional lawmakers through the passage of a joint resolution and subsequent approval by the president.
Overriding a presidential veto requires a two-thirds super majority vote by both houses of Congress, which includes 67 votes in the Senate. Currently, Republicans only enjoy a 54—46 seat advantage in Congress’ upper chamber.