Peter Dykstra: “The heavy stuff’s not gonna come down for quite a while.”
Credit: US EPA

Peter Dykstra: “The heavy stuff’s not gonna come down for quite a while.”

When it comes to the Trump Administration's purge of environmental regulation, it may look like the deluge has already started, but I'd advise taking shelter for what's on the way.

In one of my all-time favorite movies, Caddyshack, Bill Murray is caddying for Bishop Pickering, cleric and member in good standing of the Bushwood Country Club.


In lightning and a deluge of rain, Murray urges the Bishop to play on: "I think the heavy stuff's not gonna come down for quite a while."

That pretty much sums up how I feel about the Trump Administration's purge of environmental regulation. It may look like the deluge has already started, but I'd advise taking shelter for the much worse impacts that could be on the way.

On Wednesday, former coal industry lobbyist Andrew Wheeler carried out a potentially lifesaving feat for his ex-clients by reversing Obama-era rules designed to wean the U.S. off coal. Wheeler's new rule would defer many decisions now made federally to individual states. This trumps Wheeler's previous-week highlight, in which he said that taming the plastic waste crisis, not climate change, was the EPA's greatest international priority.

A few months earlier, Wheeler said safe drinking water was a much bigger priority than climate change.

Also, well underway are efforts to cancel Obama-era targets for car and truck fuel efficiency. Get this: The auto industry recently pleaded with the White House to retain the more ambitious fuel efficiency standards – a cornerstone of the plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Translation: While we're growing accustomed to any number of industries having their way, the Administration's anti-regulatory Jihadists have more pull over auto industry regs than the auto industry has.

Wheeler is also advancing efforts started by his scandal-plagued predecessor, Scott Pruitt, to tone down the use of EPA's Science Advisory Board in establishing new pollution regulations. Inside Climate News reported earlier this month that SAB meetings, once convened six to eight times annually, dwindled to one meeting in the past year.

The Administration is expected to soon take a run at NEPA, an obscure but critical half-century old statute. The National Environmental Policy Act requires that an environmental impact assessment be prepared for every major development project.

Had enough? The Endangered Species Act faces a Trump makeover, soon. Budgets and morale at EPA, Interior, NOAA and other agencies are racing each out the door, with institutional knowledge swirling the drain. Fringe scientists, like climate denier William Happer, have a seat at the Trump table.

Superfund cleanups, never a roaring success, are slowing. And like Wheeler, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt is an ex-fossil lobbyist with a quiet insider's style.

So amid the deluges, the weather report isn't getting any brighter any time soon. The heavy stuff could be in our future.
French police guard water as seasonal drought intensifies

French police guard water as seasonal drought intensifies

New reservoirs designed to supply French farms with water in increasingly arid growing seasons have attracted opposition from environmentalists.
Sunrise in the woods

Get our Good News newsletter

Get the best positive, solutions-oriented stories we've seen on the intersection of our health and environment, FREE every Tuesday in your inbox. Subscribe here today. Keep the change tomorrow.

The world can’t recycle its way out of the plastics crisis
www.bostonglobe.com

The world can’t recycle its way out of the plastics crisis

The International Energy Agency projects that by 2050, more than half of all oil and gas will be used to make plastics and petrochemicals. This has enormous climate impacts.
‘Tangled mess of inaction’: hundreds of threatened species recovery plans expiring in next six months
www.theguardian.com

‘Tangled mess of inaction’: hundreds of threatened species recovery plans expiring in next six months

Growing list facing extinction and underresourcing of conservation means plans have not been updated
Energy-rich Qatar faces fast-rising climate risks at home
www.thestar.com

Energy-rich Qatar faces fast-rising climate risks at home

AL RAYYAN, Qatar (AP) — At a suburban park near Doha, the capital city of Qatar, cool air from vents in the ground blasted joggers on a November day t...
Satellite constellations could harm the environment, new watchdog report says
www.scientificamerican.com

Satellite constellations could harm the environment, new watchdog report says

Elon Musk’s Starlink and other satellite sources of light pollution and orbital debris should face an environmental review, the U.S. Government Accountability Office finds
The world’s roots are getting shallower
eos.org

The world’s roots are getting shallower

Root-filled soils are hot spots of nutrient cycling and carbon storage. New research finds that the world has lost millions of cubic meters of rooted soil volume—and we’re on track to lose much more.
From our Newsroom
katharine hayhoe

Peter Dykstra: Journalists I’m thankful for

My third annual list of the over-achieving and under-thanked.

sperm count decline shanna swan

A new analysis shows a “crisis” of male reproductive health

Global average sperm count is declining at a quicker pace than previously known, chemical exposure is a suspected culprit.

WATCH: The latest evidence of widespread sperm count decline

WATCH: The latest evidence of widespread sperm count decline

"Pregnant women, and men planning to conceive a pregnancy, have a responsibility to protect the reproductive health of the offspring they are creating."

sperm count decline

Frequently asked questions on the new sperm count decline study

Sperm counts are declining everywhere — the implications are huge.

midterm elections

Peter Dykstra: Environmental takeaways from Election Day

What happened and, perhaps more importantly, what didn’t happen?

coal pennsylvania

Former coal plant near Pittsburgh is poisoning groundwater: Report

Groundwater near the site contains arsenic levels 372 times higher than safety threshold. Coal ash sites across the U.S. are seeing similar contamination.

Stay informed: sign up for The Daily Climate newsletter
Top news on climate impacts, solutions, politics, drivers. Delivered to your inbox week days.