WASHINGTON — Moves to slash federal regulations by President Donald Trump this week and the Republican majority in Congress are drawing praise and concern on Long Island.
John Hill, CEO of Long Island Advancement of Small Business, said he’s “absolutely” in favor of Trump’s orders to pare regulations to end burdensome requirements on business. But Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said those orders could be “dangerous” depending on how they are interpreted for clean air and water rules.
Long Island illustrates the contradictions of federal regulation.
Hill said operators of many of the more than 150,000 small businesses in Nassau and Suffolk counties complain about its paperwork and cost.
But Esposito is joined by three-quarters of Long Islanders in a recent Siena Poll who call protection of the environment important or even crucial.
As Republicans rush to strip back rules, Long Island businesses and the environment could be affected.
Trump issued an executive order Monday requiring that for every new federal rule created, two old ones must be rescinded, and forbidding new regulations from adding to the overall national regulatory cost. On his first day in office on Jan. 20, Trump ordered a freeze on all new or pending regulations.
Trump has said he wants to slash the number of federal regulations by 75 percent.
Could his orders have a quick impact?
“Not without legislation, I don’t think,” said Patrick McLaughlin, director of the Program for Economic Research on Regulation at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University in Virginia. “This is an executive order that would still work through the rule-making process.”
And that could take years. Just as when a new rule is approved, the killing of a regulation must go through a lengthy process, and then possibly face litigation.
In Congress, Republicans are weighing how to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, and the Dodd-Frank law on financial institutions, and all of their accompanying regulations.
Hill said repealing Obamacare could help small businesses beset by costly rules on health care. “They nickel and dime you to death, for God’s sake,” he said.
Republicans also have eyed a wide range of other, lesser known regulations.
The conservative House Freedom Caucus has targeted 228 rules spanning all federal agencies on issues including clean air and water, food and drug safety, employee overtime, and even climate change.
In the first week of January, House Republicans passed three bills now pending in the Senate that could have a profound effect on existing and future regulations.
The acts would give Congress the power to approve agency regulations with an impact of $100 million or more, to kill in a single act dozens of recent Obama administration regulations and to add new hurdles for agencies issuing new regulations.
The House also plans to use the 1996 Congressional Review Act to use a fast-track process that avoids filibusters to undo some Obama-era regulations dating to June 13, 2016.
Under that act, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Tuesday said the House “will expedite five resolutions to block costly, harmful regulations. This includes turning the page on what has been, for the last eight years, a war on coal jobs in America.”
One target is expected to be the Clean Power Plan, an Obama administration regulation that put limits on emissions from power plants.
Esposito said that action could affect Nassau and Suffolk.
“We’re actually in the airshed of Midwest power plants,” she said. “We know that sulfur dioxide [from power plant emissions] is being deposited in the Long Island Sound.”
Others also expressed alarm.
“It’s just how thorough this is and how unprecedented,” said Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza, a fellow at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank in Washington, D.C. “Repealing rules. Blocking new rules. And expanding the power to go back to repeal rules. That’s a pretty stunning blow occurring very quietly.”