The US has a lot of rules about which kinds of gases, particles, and forms of radiation can get pumped into the atmosphere.
Many of those regulations were written by the Environmental Protection Agency, under the authority Congress granted it through the Clean Air Act.
President Donald Trump and many other conservatives see these rules as overly burdensome and believe the country should have fewer of them. Trump’s EPA chief, Scott Pruitt, vocally endorses that position, too.
Trump signed an executive order in March instructing the EPA to review those rules and revise or repeal them.
The order says it’s the “policy of the United States to alleviate unnecessary regulatory burdens placed on the American people.”
Trump specifically instructed the EPA to begin dismantling the Clean Power Plan, a sweeping Obama-era law designed to get 47 states to slash greenhouse-gas emissions from their coal plants.
But revising or repealing a regulation that’s already on the books isn’t so simple. The EPA will have to go through the same arduous, months-long rulemaking process it used to create the regulations in the first place. And part of that process involves seeking comments from the public.
Now that process is underway.
The EPA has created a page on Regulations.gov where the public can comment. As of writing, it has already logged 1,268 comments, most of which appear to oppose repealing the air-quality regulations.
“The existing regulations are in place for a reason,” one recent comment says. “They were enacted to fill a public need for clean water and air. Undoing these regulations is not in the public interest. Short term thinking and ignoring basic facts is sure way to be on the wrong side of history.”
“Don’t do this,” another says.
The agency will also hold a teleconference from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET on April 24 – members of the public will have the opportunity to weigh in. You can find more information on the EPA’s regulatory reform process on its website.