Week in Review

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Trump directs rollback of environmental laws, N.C. votes to repeal H.B. 2, and more…

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  • Surrounded by coal miners and Cabinet officials, President Trumpissued an executive order that begins the process of rolling back the environmental agenda implemented by President Obama. The orderincludes a direction to agency heads to conduct a review of regulations that “potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy,” and specifically targets the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. President Trump reportedlyreferred to the order as “an historic step to lift the restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion and to cancel job-killing regulations.”
  • The North Carolina General Assembly voted to repeal and replace House Bill 2 (H.B. 2), a controversial law that includes a provision restricting transgender people’s access to public restrooms to restrooms that correspond with the sex on their birth certificate. In response to H.B. 2 becoming law, a number of groups announced plans to exit North Carolina, and theNational Collegiate Athletic Association threatened to bar North Carolina from hosting college sports championships until 2023 unless it repealed the law. Although the repeal and replace bill has the endorsement of North Carolina’s Democratic Governor Roy Cooper, James Esseks of the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT Project reportedly said the bill “is not a repeal of H.B. 2,” but merely a reinforcement of “the worst aspects of the law.”
  • The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to repeal theFederal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Internet privacy rule, which aimed to limit broadband service providers’ ability to collect and use personal information online without consumers’ consent. The U.S. Senate passed a resolution of disapproval for the same rule last week, and the measure will now head to President Trump’s desk for signature.
  • President Trump signed a resolution under the Congressional Review Act to repeal the Obama Administration’s so-calledBlacklisting Rule, which aimed to improve “contractor compliance with labor laws” by requiring federal contractors to report labor violations and limiting the federal government’s ability to contract with companies that have a history of labor violations. In repealing the regulation, President Trump asserted that the “rule made it too easy for trial lawyers to get rich by going after American companies and American workers who contract with the federal government.”
  • President Trump also signed two resolutions under the Congressional Review Act to eliminate education regulations finalized under the Obama Administration. The resolutions repealed a rule implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act(ESSA), which addressed school performance ratings issues, and another rule dealing with teacher preparation requirements. President Trump asserted that both regulations were “federal power grabs that centralize decision-making in Washington away from states and local governments,” and that repealing the rules will remove “additional layers of bureaucracy.”
  • In a speech delivered at the White House, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the U.S. Department of Justice(DOJ) would withhold DOJ grants from state and local governments—such as “sanctuary cities” that direct their law enforcement officers not to inform federal authorities when they have undocumented immigrants in their custody—unless those governments certify that they are complying with 8 U.S.C. Section 1373, which bars government officials from withholding information about a person’s immigration status from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt denied a petition to ban chlorpyrifos on the ground that, despite a finding by EPA scientists in 2016 that using the pesticide on food crops exceeds regulatory safety standards, more research was needed before the Agency decided to ban the pesticide—a move welcomed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which said that farmers rely on the pesticide in a criticism of members of the environmental community.
  • The U.S. House of Representatives voted 228-194 to pass legislation that would bar the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from basing regulations on scientific evidence that is not publicly available—a change which the bill’s Republican supporters say would result in regulations that are more scientifically sound, but which Democrats, environmentalists, and health advocates reportedly say would handcuff EPA and prevent the Agency from regulating effectively.


  • In a recent op-ed, the Editorial Board of The New York Times criticized a series of moves by the Trump Administration to dissemble climate change initiatives made by the Obama Administration, including President Trump’s speech in Detroit pledging to restore a mid-term review process for fuel efficiency standards, a budget proposal that includes significant cuts to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and a new executive order that requires a review of all regulations that “potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources, with particular attention to oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy resources.”
  • Writing for The New York Times, Conor Dougherty describes how, now that the federal government has taken steps to roll back regulations that protect consumers’ online data, efforts to protect consumers’ Internet privacy have moved to the states. Among the states that are working to protect consumer privacy is Illinois, which is currently considering a so-called “right to know” bill that would allow consumers to find out which pieces of their personal information are collected by companies.
  • Writing for the Yale Journal on Regulation’s Notice & Comment blog, University of Iowa Law Professor Andy Grewal delves into the legal issues animating the General Services Administration’s (GSA) recent decision that the Trump Old Post Office Hotel did not violate its lease when President Donald Trump took office. The dispute, Grewal writes, depends in part on whether an elected official was “admitted” to the GSA lease or to any benefit arising from it—a term Grewal suggests is ambiguous and could be read either to bar only officials who are already in office from renting government property, or to bar any elected official from being a party to the lease, regardless of when that official was elected.