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Drilling, climate stakes high in Tuesday's presidential vote

Drilling, climate stakes high in Tuesday's presidential vote
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The Trump administration is prepared to step up its efforts to change how science and climate benefits are calculated in rulemaking if the president is reelected. 

The EPA has proposed rules that would make these changes, which critics fear could undermine the ability of future administrations to take regulatory action.

Another major piece of Trump's agenda that hasn't yet been finalized and could fall to a second term is a plan for offshore drilling. 

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Environmentalists argue that in light of this, the environmental stakes for Tuesday's election are huge. 

In a speech outlining his vision for a second term in September, EPA Administrator Andrew WheelerAndrew WheelerHillicon Valley: GOP chairman says defense bill leaves out Section 230 repeal | Senate panel advances FCC nominee | Krebs says threats to election officials 'undermining democracy' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Westerman tapped as top Republican on House Natural Resources Committee | McMorris Rodgers wins race for top GOP spot on Energy and Commerce | EPA joins conservative social network Parler EPA chief quarantining after exposure to someone who later tested positive for COVID-19 MORE highlighted the two proposed rules. 

One rule would limit how the agency weighs the benefits of fighting climate change and reducing nontarget pollutants in clean air rulemaking, which it argues would provide consistency and prevent inflating benefits. 

Critics argue that it would prevent future administrations from updating a variety of rules and make it harder to issue rules to protect the environment. 

He also highlighted a rule that would limit the consideration of studies that don’t make their underlying data public, which the Trump administration has touted as a transparency measure. 

“Those who oppose it want regulatory decisions to be made behind closed doors,” Wheeler said during his speech. “I want to bring our environmental decision-making process out of the proverbial smoke-filled back room.”

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Critics say this could lead to the exclusion of important findings and that some studies don’t make their data public because of privacy concerns. 

John Coequyt, the Sierra Club's global climate policy director, said that while the administration “quickly attacked” environmental rules in its first term, it could “more completely undermine the entire process by which public health standards are set” with a second term. 

Another area where the Trump administration has yet to finalize its plans is offshore drilling. 

The Interior Department proposed expanding drilling on almost all of the country’s outer continental shelf in 2018 but halted its plans last year after a court ruling prevented drilling in the ocean off the coast of Alaska. 

Since then, the president has moved to exclude drilling off the coasts of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas until 2032, but any plans to expand offshore drilling have not been finalized. 

Many states have pushed back on attempts to drill off their coasts because of concerns over the potential for ocean-harming spills; however, the oil and gas industry has touted offshore drilling as another way to tap into the country’s resources and promote energy independence.

Asked what would be on Interior’s agenda for the next several years, spokesperson Conner Swanson said that the department “will continue to implement President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal watchdog accuses VOA parent company of wrongdoing under Trump appointee Lawsuit alleges 200K Georgia voters were wrongly purged from registration list Ivanka Trump gives deposition in lawsuit alleging misuse of inauguration funds MORE’s agenda to create more American jobs, protect the safety of American workers, support domestic energy production and conserve our environment” but declined to provide specifics. 

The administration recently finalized decisions allowing drilling across stretches of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and the National Petroleum Reserve. 

With four more years, the administration could see the drilling actually carried out, as one company’s attempt to test for oil at ANWR has already been proposed for December 2020 and January 2021. 

Meanwhile, former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenLawsuit alleges 200K Georgia voters were wrongly purged from registration list GOP lawmaker blasts incoming freshman over allegations of presidential voter fraud Haaland has competition to be first Native American to lead Interior  MORE has expressed opposition to drilling at ANWR and has said that he would end new oil and gas permitting on public lands and waters. 

Heading into the election, polling shows Biden ahead both nationally and in key swing states.