Tag: protections

As Trump deregulated environmental protections, society pushed back

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump has undertaken a rollback of environmental regulations unlike anything in U.S. history, promising new manufacturing and industrial activity in the United States while drawing dire warnings from environmentalists.

But so far, the real-world effects of those actions have been blunted by a push against climate change that has galvanized corporations to invest in clean energy, state legislatures to enact their own limits on carbon emissions and environmental attorneys to fight Trump in court.

Trump rolled back fuel economy standards, but automakers are still investing heavily in electric vehicles. Trump relaxed rules on power plant emissions to help the coal industry, but coal-fired generators are shutting down because they can’t compete with lower-cost natural gas and renewable energy.

The muted effects of Trump’s campaign against regulation demonstrate the limited power presidents have in shifting the direction of the country in the face of economic, social and, as the coronavirus has shown, natural forces. The task is particularly difficult when presidents fail to win over Congress, as Trump has on his environmental agenda — despite Republican control in his first two years.

That has forced Trump to rely on executive orders and administrative changes, preventing deeper, longer-lasting changes to U.S. law and relegating his administration to tinkering around the edges of how the Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies carry out their work.

“The old expression, we’re a nation of laws and not people,” said Scott Segal, a Washington energy attorney. “As an individual, the president can hope for all the change he or she wants, but without working through the process it’s very difficult to make durable change.”

Case in point: oil and gas pipelines. Trump ordered aides to find ways to circumvent governors, such New York’s Andrew Cuomo, who refuse to approve pipelines in their states. But under the Clean Water Act, states are granted the right to stop projects they deem potentially harmful to their waterways.

Getting around that would require a change in the law. Even Republicans balked, concerned about stepping on the rights of state governments.

Tech trumps tariffs

Trump’s campaign to grow fossil fuels, often at the expense of wind and solar energy, has not gone as expected. In 2018, when the administration put a 30 percent tariff on solar panels, targeting cheap Chinese imports, analysts predicted the solar industry would sustain a severe blow.

But a year later, residential installations had increased by roughly 15 percent, driven by declines in the cost of solar technology.

“Even with Trump not pushing renewables, there’s enough of a foothold it’s still growing,” said Pablo Diaz, CEO of Direct Solar of America, an Arizona company that installs rooftop solar systems.

The Trump administration defends its deregulatory push as necessary to grow American industry, which it maintains was stifled by excessive regulation.

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As Trump rolled back environmental protections, society pushed back

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump has undertaken a rollback of environmental regulations unlike anything in U.S. history, promising new manufacturing and industrial activity in the United States while drawing dire warnings from environmentalists.



a crane next to a traffic light


© Elizabeth Conley, Houston Chronicle / Staff Photographer


But so far, the real-world effects of those actions have been blunted by a push against climate change that has galvanized corporations to invest in clean energy, state legislatures to enact their own limits on carbon emissions and environmental attorneys to fight Trump in court.

Trump rolled back fuel economy standards, but automakers are still investing heavily in electric vehicles. Trump relaxed rules on power plant emissions to help the coal industry, but coal-fired generators are shutting down because they can’t compete with lower-cost natural gas and renewable energy.

The muted effects of Trump’s campaign against regulation demonstrate the limited power presidents have in shifting the direction of the country in the face of economic, social and, as the coronavirus has shown, natural forces. The task is particularly difficult when presidents fail to win over Congress, as Trump has on his environmental agenda — despite Republican control in his first two years.

That has forced Trump to rely on executive orders and administrative changes, preventing deeper, longer-lasting changes to U.S. law and relegating his administration to tinkering around the edges of how the Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies carry out their work.

“The old expression, we’re a nation of laws and not people,” said Scott Segal, a Washington energy attorney. “As an individual, the president can hope for all the change he or she wants, but without working through the process it’s very difficult to make durable change.”

Case in point: oil and gas pipelines. Trump ordered aides to find ways to circumvent governors, such New York’s Andrew Cuomo, who refuse to approve pipelines in their states. But under the Clean Water Act, states are granted the right to stop projects they deem potentially harmful to their waterways.

Getting around that would require a change in the law. Even Republicans balked, concerned about stepping on the rights of state governments.

Tech trumps tariffs

Trump’s campaign to grow fossil fuels, often at the expense of wind and solar energy, has not gone as expected. In 2018, when the administration put a 30 percent tariff on solar panels, targeting cheap Chinese imports, analysts predicted the solar industry would sustain a severe blow.

But a year later, residential installations had increased by roughly 15 percent, driven by declines in the cost of solar technology.

“Even with Trump not pushing renewables, there’s enough of a foothold it’s still growing,” said Pablo Diaz, CEO of Direct Solar of America, an Arizona company that installs rooftop solar systems.

The Trump administration defends its deregulatory push as necessary to grow American industry, which it maintains was stifled by excessive regulation. But so far, there is little evidence of the economic gains Trump promised.

During

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Under the cover of Covid, Morrison wants to scrap my government’s protections against predatory lending

Pardon me for being just a little suspicious, but when I see an avalanche of enthusiasm from such reputable institutions as the Morrison government, the Murdoch media and the Australian Banking Association (anyone remember the Hayne royal commission?) about the proposed “reform” of the National Consumer Credit Protection Act, I smell a very large rodent. “Reform” here is effectively code language for repeal. And it means the repeal of major legislation introduced by my government to bring about uniform national laws to protect Australian consumers from unregulated and often predatory lending practices.



Josh Frydenberg, Scott Morrison are posing for a picture: Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP


© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

The banks of course have been ecstatic at Morrison’s announcement, chiming in with the government’s political chimeric that allowing the nation’s lenders once again to just let it rip was now essential for national economic recovery. Westpac, whose reputation was shredded during the royal commission, was out of the blocks first in welcoming the changes: CEO Peter King said they would “reduce red tape”, “speed up the process for customers to obtain approval”, and help small businesses access credit to invest and grow.

And right on cue, Westpac shares were catapulted 7.2% to $17.54 just before midday on the day of announcement. National Australia Bank was up more than 6% at $18.26, ANZ up more than 5% at $17.76, and Commonwealth Bank was trading almost 3.5% higher at $66.49. The popping of champagne corks could be heard right around the country as the banks, once again, saw the balance of market power swing in their direction and away from consumers. And that means more profit and less consumer protection.

Related: Frydenberg’s move to dump lending laws ‘shortsighted’, consumer groups say

A little bit of history first. Back in the middle of the global financial crisis, when the banks came on bended knee to our government seeking sovereign guarantees to preserve their financial lifelines to international lines of credit, we acted decisively to protect them, and their depositors, and to underpin the stability of the Australian financial system. And despite a hail of abuse from both the Liberal party and the Murdoch media at the time, we succeeded. Not only did we keep Australia out of the global recession then wreaking havoc across all developed economies, we also prevented any single financial institution from falling over and protected every single Australian’s savings deposits. Not bad, given the circumstances.



Josh Frydenberg, Scott Morrison are posing for a picture: ‘It is more important than ever that there are no unnecessary barriers to the flow of credit,’ says Scott Morrison. But, writes Kevin Rudd, the Coalition government is ‘bereft of intellectual talent and policy ideas in dealing with the real challenge of national economic recovery’.


© Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP
‘It is more important than ever that there are no unnecessary barriers to the flow of credit,’ says Scott Morrison. But, writes Kevin Rudd, the Coalition government is ‘bereft of intellectual talent and policy ideas in dealing with the real challenge of national economic recovery’.

But we were also crystal-clear with the banks and other lenders at the time that we would be acting to protect working families from future predatory lending practices. And we did so. The national consumer credit protection bill 2009 (credit bill) and the national consumer credit protection (fees) bill 2009 (fees bill) collectively made

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