Not too long after taking office, Trump decided to start asking around about how the government could roll back regulations and make it easier for companies to get their projects approved. But he didn’t ask ordinary Americans, or small business owners. He didn’t ask people in small towns and big cities. He asked big corporations what their opinions were. He sought advice from the same people he blasted as “The Swamp” during his campaign, and promised repeatedly to drain it.
Now, given who he’s appointed to his cabinet, it was pretty clear that he had zero intention of draining the swamp. Trump specifically targeted manufacturers and fossil fuel producers for this, probably because he thinks allowing them to run roughshod will at least help him pretend he’s truly bringing manufacturing jobs back. But this is even more egregious because major industry insiders don’t care about people. They don’t care who they hurt in pursuit of the almighty dollar. Of course they want industry regulations cut — these are the industries people fought (and died) against to stop things like child labor and worker exploitation.
The White House got 168 comments total. Manufacturers went after the EPA the hardest, with 79 of those comments targeting that agency. The EPA received 79 comments total, because of course it did. And companies targeted the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts with 48 and 29 comments respectively, because having to clean up after yourself so everyone around you can breathe clean air and drink clean water is just too difficult.
Trump’s decision to halt key provisions of the Clean Water Act has already angered people, particularly those living in communities that are especially vulnerable to poisoned water. The director of the Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal” campaign has said:
“Trump’s attempt to halt these clean water protections for mercury, lead, and arsenic from coal power plants is dangerous and irresponsible. After years of peer-reviewed studies, extensive input from medical experts and scientists, and thorough review of public comments, the EPA made the right call in finalizing strong clean water protections against coal plants dumping toxic heavy metals into our waterways…As a mother, I’m frankly horrified that the EPA would put the safety of drinking water at risk for millions of Americans, but that’s exactly what they’ve done. Coming from West Virginia, where we’ve had enormous challenges with maintaining clean water supplies due to the coal industry’s political influence, I’m outraged that these common sense protections are under attack from the EPA itself.”
But, well, profit is king here, even though the coal industry is never going to recover no matter what Trump tries to do. A full breakdown of the agencies and regulations that these companies would like to see rolled back, if not outright eliminated, is below:
BP says it wants to make it easier to drill for gas and oil in the very same Gulf that was devastated in the Deepwater Horizon disaster, because why force them be careful when they can lie about being able to self-regulate? (Big corporations can’t self-regulate.) And The Associated General Contractors of America wants to roll back regulations for paid sick leave for government contractors. They probably want to get rid of overtime rules, too.
Of course, business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are applauding Trump for this. They see this administration as one that is finally interested in relieving businesses “from a regulatory onslaught that occurred, principally, during the prior administration.”
Others are not so sure this is the best way to do things, though, because companies will always, always, always act in their own best interests, and damn the rest of the world. Jeffrey Zients, who worked on regulatory issues under Obama, said:
“At a time when many CEOS are focused on the short term and looking to maximize their profitability each quarter, I believe that a lot of their aversion to these regulations reflects a short-term mind-set that values reducing costs over anything else.
That’s unfortunate, because well-crafted regulations are an important part of creating sustainable and fair economic prosperity in the long run.”
A detail. These companies don’t want sustainable and fair economic prosperity in the long run. They want unfair and profitable in the short run. It’s the nature of the beast. And it’s why the business world needs strong regulation. Instead, Trump is trying to give them back the ability to do what they want, when they want, how they want, without regard to the harm they cause.
Featured image by Ron Sachs – Pool via Getty Images