During his 2016 campaign, President Donald J. Trump frequently ­criticized the number and breadth of federal regulations as unduly restricting free market activities. Environmental regulations were particularly targeted, with the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule and the Clean Power Plan regulations leading the list. True to his campaign promises, President Trump has issued several executive orders designed to slow or stop the promulgation of new regulations and begin the process to revoke or modify existing regulations, including the WOTUS and Clean Power Plan rules. Congress has walked in lockstep by, among other things, using its authority under the Congressional Review Act to repeal the Stream Protection Rule limiting surface mining near waterbodies. Further executive and congressional actions can be expected.

Notwithstanding the administration’s goals, regulatory reform cannot be accomplished by executive action overnight. Revisions to federal regulations may be made only following notice and comment, which may involve a several-year process for technical, science-based ­environmental rules. Where the scientific consensus provides strong support for existing ­regulations, the administration may struggle and potentially fail in its effort to find a scientific basis for a regulatory change.

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