Trump issues order to lower regulatory burdens and EPA head says aggressive rollbacks lie ahead

U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Feb. 24 designed to “lower regulatory burdens on the American people” and the following day, the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator said some agency regulations will be aggressively rolled back.

Trump’s order titled, “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda,” calls for the creation of a regulatory reform officer (RRO) in certain agencies who will “oversee the implementation of regulatory reform initiatives and policies to ensure that agencies effectively carry out regulatory reforms, consistent with applicable law.”

 Orders detailed for enforcement include:

  • President Trump’s Executive Order 13771 of Jan. 30, 2017 (Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs), regarding offsetting the number and cost of new regulation;
  • President Bill Clinton’s Executive Order 12866 of Sept. 30, 1993 (Regulatory Planning and Review), as amended, regarding regulatory planning and review;
  • Section 6 of President Barack Obama’s Executive Order 13563 of Jan. 18, 2011 (Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review), regarding retrospective review; and
  • The termination, consistent with applicable law, of programs and activities that derive from or implement Executive Orders, guidance documents, policy memoranda, rule interpretations, and similar documents, or relevant portions thereof that have been rescinded.

The order also instructs applicable agencies to form a Regulatory Reform Task Force, chaired by the RRO, and will amongst other duties, “derive from or implement Executive Orders or other Presidential directives that have been subsequently rescinded or substantially modified.”

Friday’s signed order preceded reported comments made by EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt.


On Saturday, Feb. 25 during the final day of the Conservative Political Action Conference in Oxon Hill, Md., Pruitt said policy change is coming to the EPA.

“There are some regulations that in the near-term need to be rolled back in a very aggressive way,” Pruitt said. “In the next week you may be hearing about some of those.”

“We know what those are: The previous administration took the Waters of the United States rule and transformed the Clean Water Act and made puddles and dry creek beds across this country subject to the jurisdiction of Washington, D.C.,” Pruitt said. “That’s going to change.”

Pruitt, since his time as Oklahoma Attorney State General, has been part of or filed several lawsuits opposing EPA restrictions. Instead, he thinks each state should have greater authority when it comes to environmental regulation and policy.

Two EPA-related policies Pruitt will likely review include: The 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change and President Obama’s 2015 Clean Power Plan.

Additionally, part of the change in the EPA’s future could likely include funding, according to published reports.

According to reports from the Associated Press, former Trump transition team member who focused on the EPA, Myron Ebell, last week said Trump is likely to seek significant reductions to the agency’s workforce, perhaps by two-thirds.

Ebell did not provide specifics about the number of potential job cuts, if any occur at all. The EPA says its workforce is about 15,376 for fiscal year 2016.

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Gregory B. Poindexter formerly was an associate editor for

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