Week in Review

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President Trump plans to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, Supreme Court decides to hear voter registration case, and more…

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  • President Donald Trump announced that he plans to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, a global climate change agreement under which the United States committed to cutting carbon emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025. The United States will not be able to withdraw from the agreement until 2020 under the terms of the agreement. President Trump said he will start negotiations and re-enter the agreement if the United States can get a “fair” deal, but the leaders of France, Germany, and Italy issued a statement that the agreement cannot be renegotiated.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court decided to hear a case from Ohio raising issues about how states keep their voter registration rolls up to date. Under federal voting law, a state cannot take an individual’s name off its official list of registered voters simply because that individual did not vote, but the state is required to take an individual off of the roll if the individual “does not respond to a confirmation notice sent by the State and does not vote in the next two general federal elections.” In the case currently under appeal in the Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit had concluded that Ohio, which had been sending confirmation notices to its voters who had not voted for two years, was breaking federal law “because Ohio uses a voter’s failure to vote as the ‘trigger’ for sending a confirmation notice.”
  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit unanimously upheld a preliminary injunction allowing a transgender teen to use the boys’ restroom. Judge Ann Claire Williams stated that “a policy that requires an individual to use a bathroom that does not conform with his or her gender identity punishes that individual for his or her gender nonconformance, which in turn violates Title IX.” The decision differs from an earlier ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit that came after the Trump Administration withdrew Obama-Administration-era guidance that had interpreted Title IX to require schools to treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity.
  • The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said it will temporarily list the opioid acryl fentanyl under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act because the DEA believes doing so “is necessary to avoid an imminent hazard to the public safety.” Schedule I addresses “substances…that have a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use…and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.” According to the DEA, acryl fentanyl abuse has led to 83 deaths in several states during 2016 and 2017, and the drug poses “the same qualitative public health risks as heroin.”
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a 90-day stay of Obama-era rules intended to cut down on methane pollution. EPA said this stay was in line with President Trump’s Energy Independence Executive Order, which directed EPA to review oil and gas rules. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) plans to sue to block the stay and said the Trump Administration is “giving its friends in the oil and gas industry a free pass to continue polluting our air.”
  • Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine filed suit against several opioid manufacturers in the Ross County Court of Common Pleas. The suit claims that the manufacturers “falsely and misleadingly downplayed the serious risk of addiction” and “falsely touted the benefits of long-term opioid use.” The manufacturers’ actions allegedly contributed to an “opioid crisis” in Ohio. DeWine said, “we believe the evidence will show that these companies got thousands and thousands of Ohioans addicted to opioid pain medications.”
  • The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is reviewing an interim final rule to relax an earlier regulation that requires employers, including religious employers, to cover contraceptives in their health insurance plans. This comes a few weeks after President Trump signed an executive order urging agencies to “vigorously enforce Federal law’s robust protections for religious freedom.” Last week, 14 Democratic senators sent a letter to Mick Mulvaney, director of OMB, urging him to “cease any efforts” that would make it more difficult for women to access affordable preventive services, including contraception because these preventative services are “a critical part of women’s health care.”
  • The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) provided notice confirming the adoption of energy conservation standards for residential air conditioners and heat pumps established in a January 2017 rule and announced the effective date of the standards as January 1, 2023. This confirmation follows a DOE determination that the comments received during the notice and comment period did not provide a reasonable basis for withdrawal.
  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit revoked the approval of a toxic nanomaterial named “Nanosilva” after it determined that EPA failed to show that Nanosilva’s approval was in the public’s interest. The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act allows EPA to grant a temporary, conditional registration if the agency determines that the use of the pesticide is in the public interest; EPA, however, had not completed  all of the health and safety studies required by the law, according to the court.


  • In an opinion piece for the New York Times, Will Wilkinson, Vice President for Policy at the Niskanen Center, maintains that big government and heavy regulation are not the same thing. Wilkinson contends that regulatory policies can and should be separate from “big-government” welfare spending programs. He argues that Republicans would do well to loosen regulations but leave the welfare state in place because “a generous and effective safety net can be embraced as a tool to promote and sustain a culture of freedom, innovation and risk taking.”
  • In an article for RealClear Health, Jordan Reimschisel, a research assistant at George Mason Universityargues that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should “create an environment in which innovation and entrepreneurship can thrive with as few barriers as possible.” Reimschisel believes that “innovation should…proceed unencumbered by prohibitive regulation unless it poses an imminent, catastrophic, and irreversible harm to society.” According to Reimschisel, heightened FDA regulation detracts from individuals’ ability to make their own healthcare decisions and stifles the creation of new drugs.
  • Nicholas Loris and Brett Schaefer of the Heritage Foundation argue in support of President Trump upholding his campaign promise to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, but they think the president should have done so by pulling out of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Loris and Schaefer claim that compliance with the Paris Agreement will result in almost no reduction in projected warming, but will cost the global economy trillions of dollars over the next 80 years. Under the terms of the Paris Agreement, withdrawal of the U.S. cannot occur until November 2020, even though President Trump announced the intention to do so yesterday. Loris and Schaefer assert that if the United States were to withdraw from the UNFCCC, it could exit the Paris Agreement in only one year, an approach that President Trump rejected.