The New York Times reports: President Trump is expected to sign an executive order on Tuesday aimed at rolling back one of former President Barack Obama’s major environmental regulations to protect American waterways, but it will have almost no immediate legal effect, according to two people familiar with the White House plans.
The order will essentially give Mr. Trump a megaphone to direct his new Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Scott Pruitt, to begin the complicated legal process of rewriting the sweeping 2015 rule known as Waters of the United States. But that effort could take longer than a single presidential term, legal experts said.
An advance copy of the order was viewed by The New York Times on Monday. It is the first of two announcements expected to direct Mr. Pruitt to begin dismantling the major pillars of Mr. Obama’s environmental legacy.
In the coming week, Mr. Trump is also expected to sign a similar order instructing Mr. Pruitt to begin the process of withdrawing and revising Mr. Obama’s signature 2015 climate-change regulation, aimed at curbing emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases from coal-fired power plants.
Because both of those rules were finalized under existing laws long before Mr. Obama left office, they cannot be simply undone with a stroke of the president’s pen, legal experts in both the Obama and Trump White Houses have said.
“The executive order has no legal significance at all,” said Richard L. Revesz, a professor of environmental law at New York University. “It’s like the president calling Scott Pruitt and telling him to start the legal proceedings. It does the same thing as a phone call or a tweet. It just signals that the president wants it to happen.” [Continue reading…]