Target: Pat Gallagher, Director, Sierra Club Environmental Law Program
Goal: Save important environmental and financial regulations from being dismantled by the Trump administration.
The Congressional Review Act (CRA) passed in 1996, allows for the repeal of any federal rules enacted within the last 60 legislative days. It would seem to be a tempting tool for a new administration with congressional control to eliminate disliked regulations, as repeal initiated under the CRA only requires a simple 51-vote majority vote with presidential approval, and is not vulnerable to filibuster by the opposition party. However even with a relatively straightforward road to passage, only one resolution under the CRA had been initiated prior to 2016. The Trump administration, working in partnership with a Republican-controlled Congress, is in the process of using the CRA to dismantle several environmental and financial regulations enacted in the last months of Obama’s presidency.
A critical regulation known as the “Stream Rule” was one of the first to be targeted by Republican lawmakers, under pressure from coal lobbying groups, for cancellation through the CRA. It would have expanded conservation of ecology and wildlife through restrictions on coal mining waste. The Department of Fish and Wildlife estimated this would have included over 6,000 miles of waterways, 52,000 acres of forest, and 171 threatened and endangered species from debris created by the destruction of mountaintops for coal exploration. It would have also reduced greenhouse gas emissions related to coal-burning by as much as 2.5 million pounds per year.
Several of the rules under threat of repeal are financial regulations demanding greater transparency from the energy sector. This includes the “Anti-Graft” rule which was passed in the wave of financial regulations following the 2008 recession, and would have required oil, gas and mining companies to report all payments made to foreign governments. The rule was viewed as a way to reduce corruption associated with the attainment of contracts for energy development.
It is clear that the Congressional Review Act provides a dangerous weapon for gutting regulatory oversight. In addition to cancelling a previously enacted regulation, the act also prevents a similar rule from ever receiving consideration for passage again. This means that even a regulation which has been fully vetted through comprehensive studies and peer-reviewed literature, such as the “Stream Rule,” can be decisively deleted and any potential benefits will never be realized. However, as the CRA has never been challenged in court there is an opportunity for resistance. Please sign the below petition calling for a legal challenge against the Congressional Review Act.
Dear Mr. Gallagher,
The Trump administration in partnership with a Republican-controlled Congress have begun an assault on critical environmental and financial regulations through the Congressional Review Act. The CRA allows for repeal of any federal rule enacted within the previous 60 legislative days.
An example is the “Stream Rule” which would have protected 171 endangered species across several Appalachian States from the debris generated by coal exploration. The reversal of this rule may violate the Endangered Species Act as it disregards the continued survival of those species for economic gain.
As the CRA has not yet faced a legal challenge, I am writing to urge that the Sierra Club explore such action in defense of environmental regulation.
[Your Name Here]
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