Another Trump Rule Goes Up In Smoke

Gage Skidmore/Flickr

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

The Trump administration suffered yet another setback this week. Scott Pruitt, late of the EPA, tried to undo an Obama ban on a dangerous pesticide, but it didn’t work out. Here’s the timeline:

March 2017: “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday reversed an Obama administration recommendation to ban a pesticide linked to nervous system damage in children….‘By reversing the previous administration’s steps to ban one of the most widely used pesticides in the world, we are returning to using sound science in decision-making — rather than predetermined results,’ Pruitt said of the decision.”

All it takes is the stroke of a pen! It just goes to show what an energetic administration can do when it comes to rolling back ridiculous regulations imposed by its far-left predecessor. But wait.

August 2018: “A federal appeals court ordered the Trump administration Thursday to revoke approval for a widely used pesticide that studies show can harm the brains of children….The court said the EPA had violated the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. The laws require the EPA to ban a pesticide from use on food unless there is reasonable certainty that it will cause no harm, the court said. ‘The EPA has never made any such determination and, indeed, has itself long questioned the safety of permitting chlorpyrifos to be used within the allowed tolerances,’ Rakoff wrote.”

Oh man. It turns out that Republicans can’t just reverse stuff they dislike with the stroke of a pen after all. There are rules about undertaking actual scientific studies and then taking the results seriously. You know, all the boring stuff. This is the same reason that DHS can’t repeal DACA with the stroke of a pen. The law requires agencies to explain why they want to do something and to present evidence on both its legality and its effectiveness. Trump’s appointees mostly just want the headlines without bothering about any of the tedious work involved, and that’s why their rulings keep getting overturned.

POSTSCRIPT: By the way, this is why Pruitt’s successor, Andrew Wheeler, might be more dangerous than Pruitt. Sure, he’s going to back down on some stuff that Pruitt would have charged ahead with, but it’s mostly stuff he knows would never have survived judicial review anyway. He may be less flamboyant than Pruitt, but he also know what the law requires. I suspect Wheeler will do plenty of damage, but he’ll do it methodically and legally.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate