Dems: Trump 'ignoring' rulemaking procedures

Dems: Trump 'ignoring' rulemaking procedures
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President Trump’s regulatory moratorium is coming under fire from Democrats.

By delaying a handful of Obama-era climate regulations, the Trump administration is “ignoring” longstanding rulemaking procedures, Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee wrote Monday in a letter to the White House.

This comes after The Hill reported on a number of regulatory delays by the Energy Department.

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“In recent days, it appears that Administrator [Scott] Pruitt of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, and potentially additional agency heads, have consistently ignored and flouted the requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA),” Reps. Frank Pallone Jr. (N.J.), Bobby Rush (Ill.), Paul Tonko (N.Y.) and Doris Matsui (Calif.) told White House Office of Management and Budget Director Michael Mulvaney.

On the night of Trump’s inauguration, the White House issued a regulatory moratorium that not only prohibited federal agencies from issuing new rules, but also required them to delay recently published rules that had not yet gone into effect.

This has led to a number of regulatory delays across the federal government. But Democrats are concerned about what they see as hasty efforts by the Trump administration to roll back Obama-era rules.

The Administrative Procedure Act requires federal agencies to go through a lengthy rulemaking process before issuing new regulations. This includes a notice-and-comment period that gives the public time to respond to any proposed changes by the government.

The EPA and Energy Department went through this formal rulemaking process before the regulations were issued in the final days of the Obama administration. 

To repeal the rules, the Trump administration must go through the same lengthy process, which could take years to complete. So in the interim, agencies are delaying rules published by the Obama administration that had not yet taken effect.

Though the Democrats did not mention the president’s regulatory moratorium, they questioned whether the ensuing delays violate the spirit of the Administrative Procedure Act.

“Despite these clear requirements, Administrator Pruitt issued two ‘final rules’ this week with no notice, no comment, and less than 30 days between publication and the effective date,” they wrote. “And according to press reports, Secretary Perry will publish five similar ‘final rules’ tomorrow.”

“We request that you withdraw these regulations immediately,” the lawmakers added. “These ‘final rules’ are not valid and stand to create dangerous confusion among regulated entities if they are not withdrawn.”