June 11, 2023

United States President Joe Biden speaks in the South Court Auditorium in Washington, DC on Wednesday, May 12, 2021.

Oliver Contreras | Sipa | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The Biden administration on Thursday overturned a Trump-era ordinance that made it difficult for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to establish strict standards and public health protections related to air pollution.

The so-called benefit-cost rule, passed weeks before former President Donald Trump’s departure, changed the way the agency assessed the costs and benefits of pollution regulations.

The EPA said the previous rule placed restrictions on cost-benefit analysis for creating rules of the Clean Air Act without explaining why those requirements were necessary.

The agency also said Trump’s restrictions had limited “EPA’s ability to use the best available science in developing Clean Air Act regulations.” One move she argued would be “inconsistent with economic best practices”.

“The EPA has crucial powers under the Clean Air Act to protect the public from harmful air pollution, among other things,” said agency administrator Michael Regan in a statement. “The repeal of this unnecessary and misguided rule is evidence of this government’s commitment to science.”

The move is the latest push by the Biden administration to aggressively combat climate change and reverse more than 100 Trump-era environmental regulations that favored the fossil fuel industry.

Andrew Wheeler, EPO administrator at Trump, had argued that the administration’s cost and benefit rule allowed the agency to do its work in a “transparent manner”. The administration move was largely backed by the fossil fuel sector, which is directly affected by federal environmental regulations.

However, environmental groups argued that the Trump administration’s change aimed to weaken climate change and further support the withdrawal of rules for global warming from power plants, automobiles, and other sources.

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