The Pentagon wants the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to repeal, modify or clarify nearly two dozen regulations that create extra layers of red tape and compliance for military operations.
EPA has been accepting public comments since April on which regulations should be rescinded or modified. The Department of Defense was quick to submit a draft memo to EPA in April detailing 22 regulations they want to see repealed or change.
In one instance, the Pentagon asked the EPA to modify a regulation on hazardous emissions from internal combustion engines. That rule requires military maintenance crews to change engine oil and filters every 500 hours of use a year, which applies to all sorts of equipment, from tractors to bulldozers to lawnmowers.
The Pentagon said the rule is an unnecessary burden since “[m]any times the oil does not need to be changed annually.”
“The requirement in this regulation to replace the oil at least annually may force the replacement of good oil before it is necessary, resulting in excess spending and waste,” the Pentagon noted in its comment to EPA.
The Pentagon also wants EPA to repeal all agency guidances that did not go through the rulemaking process. The Pentagon noted how EPA has used guidances to circumvent the traditional rulemaking process, which violates federal law.
“EPA cannot rely on policy and guidance as if it carries the weight of law, unless the policy/guidance has properly undergone an Administrative Procedures Act-approved rulemaking process,” the Pentagon wrote.
EPA has moved full speed ahead with soliciting comment on its regulatory regime. It’s part of President Donald Trump’s executive order to identify ways to reduce the federal government’s regulatory burden on the economy.
Environmental groups oppose the effort, and have pushed thousands of people to submit angry comments over proposed deregulatory efforts. EPA got more than 55,000 responses by the time the comment period closed in May, many of them from angry Americans and activists.
“Know your history or you’ll be doomed to repeat it,” one angry commenter wrote to EPA, according to The Washington Post. “Environmental regulations came about for a reason. There is scientific reasoning behind the need for it. It is not a conspiracy to harm corporations. It’s an attempt to make the people’s lives better.”
“Have we failed to learn from history, and forgotten the harm done to our air, water, and wetlands?” Karen Sonnessa of New York wrote in her comment. “If anything, regulations need to be more stringent. I remember the days of smog, pollution, and rivers spontaneously combusting. EPA is for the people.”
On the other side, more than three dozen state environmental regulatory bodies and associations filed comments with EPA, detailing dozens, if not hundreds, of regulations that could be changed or repealed.
The comments, collected by the Association of Air Pollution Control Agencies, urge EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to make good on his pledge to allow states to take the lead in environmental regulation.
Pruitt came into EPA promising to reverse what he said was years of the Obama administration overruling states on environmental policy. Pruitt said he wanted to “engender the trust of those at the state level, that those at the state level see us as partners” and “not as adversaries.”
EPA has already begun reconsidering a slew of Obama administration regulations on power plants. EPA has told the courts they would be reviewing rules on mercury emissions and wastewater discharges from power plants.
EPA also began reviewing the Clean Power Plan, which limits carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. The Clean Power Plan was expected to force more coal-fired power plants to prematurely retire.
Trump ordered EPA to also rewrite a regulation expanding the definition of “waters of the United States.” That rule had been stayed by federal courts as part of a lawsuit brought by 28 states.
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