Policy study: The limits of executive orders in environmental deregulation

WASHINGTON (Aug. 10, 2017) – The Trump administration’s early efforts to roll back regulation, especially in the areas of energy and the environment, are commendable, but sole reliance on executive orders is unlikely to produce lasting deregulatory change, according to a new policy brief from the R Street Institute.

“While this administration can certainly roll back and revoke programs and regulations, any action by this president remains vulnerable to the particular politics of future ones,” writes Governance Policy Fellow Jarrett Dieterle. “For this reason, Congress must do its job to hit the reset button.”

The fact that the office of the president has such wide authority to define and redefine approaches to any number of policies is a direct reflection of the accumulation of vaguely defined authorities bestowed to the executive branch by Congress. As the authors note, it is no accident that Congress has gradually abdicated its legislative powers to federal agencies, as such delegation allows congressmen to duck responsibility for contentious policy decisions.

“Congress must move on legislation to rein in the executive while articulating clear and specific pathways to achieve the desired environmental outcomes,” notes Associate Fellow Catrina Rorke. “While such an alternative to the current system will be predictably difficult, given the harsh nature of politics around climate change, the onus remains on legislators to follow through with a durable vision for small government solutions.”

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