Trumpism may not be the most coherent of political philosophies. But when White House strategist Steve Bannon recently told a crowd of conservative activists that one of their major goals is “deconstruction of the administrative state,” he brought into focus a theme that may very well come to define a large part of the Trump era. In fact, we’re already starting to see it take shape at the Environmental Protection Agency.
There are still chapters to be written in the larger fight over the Dakota Access pipeline. But as of Thursday, the months-long protest encampment at Standing Rock is no more. So what have we learned? And could the historic protest be a prelude to larger national conversations on energy, Native American sovereignty and climate change?
It’s been a week of big changes — and turmoil — at the Environmental Protection Agency. First, President Trump ordered a freeze on EPA grants and contracts and barred anyone at the agency from communicating with the public. Then, in a stance which flies in the face of the agency’s current scientific integrity policy, a White House official announced that EPA research may be subject to review by the administration. Seriously, you keeping up? So to get some perspective on it all, we reached out to Christine Todd Whitman, former head of the EPA under George W. Bush.
As of Friday’s inauguration, we can now say ‘President Donald Trump’, and that new status could have far-reaching implications for the environment. While campaigning, Trump said he would make some big changes to environmental regulations, including spearheading an overhaul of the Environmental Protection Agency. That sounds like a big claim. But what exactly can Donald Trump do when it comes to the country’s environmental laws and rules? That is, what does he actually have the power to do as President? We put that question to Jody Freeman, the founding director of Harvard’s Environmental Law Program.