Public interest groups are suing the Trump administration over a bullish and “irrational” executive order mandating that federal agencies arbitrarily eliminate two regulations for every new regulation passed. The order, signed by President Trump on Jan. 30, also sets a zero budget for rulemaking this fiscal year, which runs through the end of September. This effectively kills efforts to improve public health and safety by purposefully ignoring the value new rules would have on public protections.
Public Citizen, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Communications Workers of America filed the complaint in federal court in Washington D.C. The lawsuit asserts that the executive order not only aims to help big business at the public’s expense, but “exceeds President Trump’s constitutional authority, violates his duty under the Take Care Clause of the Constitution, and directs federal agencies to engage in unlawful actions that will harm countless Americans, including Plaintiffs’ members.”
In addition to the President, the complaint also names as Defendants the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the heads of more than a dozen executive departments and agencies. The complaint asserts that these administrators and directors cannot lawfully comply with the executive order because doing so would violate the statutes under which the agencies operate as well as the Administrative Procedure Act.
The complaint specifies ways in which the executive order would be great for big business, but a blow to consumers. For instance, OMB guidance issued in February “states that regulators can only consider the costs to businesses of new energy consumption standards for home appliances and not the benefits of lower energy costs for consumers when considering the costs of such rules,” according to Law 360.
“No one thinking sensibly about how to set rules for health, safety, the environment and the economy would ever adopt the Trump Executive Order approach – unless their only goal was to confer enormous benefits on big business,” Public Citizen President Robert Weissman said in a statement.
“When presidents overreach, it is up to the courts to remind them no one is above the law and hold them to the U.S. Constitution,” said Patti Goldman, a lawyer with Earthjustice, one of the organizations providing legal counsel for the Plaintiffs. “This is one of those times,” she added.
It will be most interesting to see how this lawsuit turns out. If reason and right prevail the Plaintiffs will win. Public interest would then be well served.
Sources: Law360, Public Citizen and Righting Injustice
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