The rollback has been met with strong resistance from critics who say the administration is overlooking health and environmental benefits of regulations in order to appease businesses, which often bear the financial costs of complying with rules. The critics have also raised concerns about a lack of transparency in the deregulation process.
An analysis published on Wednesday by the Center for Progressive Reform, a liberal think tank, showed a pattern of delaying regulations in the pipeline since Mr. Trump’s inauguration in January. The study found that 42 rules had been delayed and 13 more had been placed under review, another way to slow them down.
“There is a war on regulations going on,” said Rena Steinzor, one of the authors of the analysis and a law professor at the University of Maryland. “In defiance in the rule of law, the Trump administration is freezing rules that are critically important to public health, that will save hundreds of thousands of people from death and also from injury.”
Ms. Rao said that the regulatory review process required a “careful” analysis and compliance with the law, and that much of the action at this stage was on regulatory proposals that were being considered. She said agencies would need to study the costs and benefits of deregulation, just as they would do before proposing regulation.
“Deregulation is going to take time,” she said. “It is not something you can just do at the snap of a finger.”
The White House report, which it described as an update on its regulatory agenda, said the administration’s actions during the first five months would produce annualized savings of $22 million for the economy. In total, 860 regulatory actions have been either withdrawn or flagged for further review under the Trump administration, said the report, which Ms. Rao said was based on data from staff at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.
The administration has not yet put a figure on how much it believes it can save through curbing regulations over the course of a year or longer, Ms. Rao said. “That is what we are working on figuring out,” she said. “It is hard to prejudge that.”
The report cited a series of planning rules and regulatory actions from federal agencies. In one case, the Bureau of Land Management proposed repealing a 2015 regulation on hydraulic fracking, which it said duplicated rules in place in many states. In another, the White House said the Labor Department planned to streamline approval of new apprenticeship and vocational programs.
But this month, the administration saw the difficulty of rolling back regulations when the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, by a 2-to-1 vote, ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency could not simply suspend an Obama-era rule to restrict methane emissions from new oil and gas wells — emissions the E.P.A. had previously asserted were a major contributor to climate change, estimating the rule would cut methane emissions by 300,000 tons by 2020.
The judges said the agency had the right to reverse the methane regulations but would have to undertake a new rule-making process to undo the Obama administration’s regulation, creating a formal public record to document why the rule was no longer necessary or justified under federal law.
Asked about the ruling, Ms. Rao acknowledged there were “concerns” about the impact of the ruling. “Agencies want to move quickly to get things done, to fulfill their priorities,” she said, adding that her office would be working with agencies to be sure they follow the law and are “doing things the right way.”
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