A key architect of the Trump administration’s efforts to weaken federal climate rules is under scrutiny by a federal watchdog for his dealings with industry players who lobbied the government to ease carbon pollution limits. It is the third inquiry into whether Bill Wehrum, who headed the Environmental Protection Agency’s air policy division from November 2017 until last month, violated federal ethics rules.
White House officials barred a State Department intelligence agency from submitting written testimony this week to the House Intelligence Committee warning that human-caused climate change is “possibly catastrophic.” The move came after State officials refused to excise the document’s references to federal scientific findings on climate change.
The White House plans to create an ad hoc group of select federal scientists to reassess the government’s analysis of climate science and counter conclusions that the continued burning of fossil fuels is harming the planet, according to three administration officials.
Two senior Environmental Protection Agency political appointees — including one who personally supervises every grant the agency awards to or solicits from outside groups — got approval from the agency’s ethics office to continue to collect outside income while working for the Trump administration.
For months, officials in Republican-controlled Iowa had sought federal permission to revitalize their ailing health-insurance marketplace. Then President Trump read about the request in a newspaper story and called the federal director weighing the application. Trump’s message was clear, according to individuals who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations: Tell Iowa no.
An appeals court Monday struck down the Environmental Protection Agency’s 90-day suspension of new emission standards on oil and gas wells, a decision that could set back the Trump administration’s broad legal strategy for rolling back Obama-era rules. In a 2-to-1 ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit concluded that the EPA had the right to reconsider a 2016 rule limiting methane and smog-forming pollutants emitted by oil and gas wells but could not delay the effective date while it sought to rewrite the regulation.
After just a few weeks in office, the new administration is targeting dozens of Obama-era policies, using both legislative and executive tactics. The fallout is already rippling across the federal bureaucracy and throughout the U.S. economy, affecting how dentists dispose of mercury fillings, how schools meet the needs of poor and disabled students, and whether companies reject mineral purchases that fuel one of the world’s bloodiest conflicts.