Notice & Comment

The Trump Deregulation Scorecard Will Impact Public Health & the Environment for Generations, by Elizabeth Glass Geltman

After two years in office, the numbers are clear. The Trumps administration has accomplished an astonishing rate of deregulation of public health and environmental protections.

When the president issued Executive Order 13771 (entitled “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs”), he announced a goal of requiring all federal agencies to embark on two deregulatory actions for every regulation promulgated: the so called 2-for-1 plan Trump promised on his campaign trail.

The results are far more dramatic than those promised by the president. According to data released by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), in 2017 the ratio of deregulation to regulations promulgated was twenty-two (22) to one (1). In 2018, the ratio was twelve (12) to one (1).

Although rate of deregulation between the first and second year dropped, the actual numbers show an important trend. Deregulation continued in 2018 in dramatic numbers. In 2017, the Trump administration completed sixty-seven (67) deregulatory actions and promulgated only three (3) regulations. In 2018, the Trump administration completed one hundred and seventy-six (176) deregulatory actions and promulgated only fourteen (14) regulations.

Of those, 176 deregulatory actions in 2018, OIRA determined that 57 were “significant.” Thus, even if only “comparing significant deregulatory actions to significant regulatory actions yields a ratio of 4 to 1.”

The raw numbers alone, however, tell an incomplete story.

The vast bulk of deregulatory actions in the first two years of the Trump Administration have taken place in just seven federal agencies: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Education, Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), Department of the Interior (DOI), Department of Labor (DOL), Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Department of Transportation (DOT). Thus, most of the Trump deregulation has focused on federal regulation of education, health, labor, food and the environment.

In 2017, EPA completed sixteen (16) deregulatory actions and promulgated only 1 regulation.  DOI completed twelve (12) deregulatory actions and promulgated no regulations. Department of Labor and HHS each completed seven (7) deregulatory actions and each promulgated no regulations. USDA completed three (3) deregulatory actions and promulgated no regulations. DOT completed two (2) deregulatory actions and promulgated no regulations.

In 2018, the deregulation increased. HHS completed twenty-five (25) deregulatory actions and promulgated four (4) new regulations DOT completed twenty-three (23) deregulatory actions and promulgated one (1) new regulation. DOI completed eighteen (18) deregulatory actions and promulgated no regulations. Department of Labor completed eleven (11) deregulatory actions and promulgated no new regulation. EPA completed ten (10) deregulatory actions and promulgated only three (3) regulations. USDA completed eight (8) deregulatory actions and promulgated three (3) new regulations.

The table below shows the regulatory and deregulatory activity across the federal agencies for calendar years 2017 and 2018:

The Trump administration declared a continued commitment to the steady pace of deregulation when announcing the Fall 2018 unified agenda. As of March 29, 2019, the federal agencies with the most regulatory actions under review for 2019 included HHS, EPA, DOL, DOT, USDA and HUD. HHS had 24 pending actions. EPA, DOL and DOT each had 8 pending actions. DOL had 7 pending actions. USDA had 5 pending actions. HUD had 5 pending actions. Thus, in 2019, deregulation will continue to focus on health, the environment, labor and food policy. In addition, housing policy for our nation’s most vulnerable populations will also come under the Trump administration’s regulatory reform scrutiny.

The rapid deregulation of education, health, labor, food, housing and the environment may have extremely important societal impacts for decades to come.


Elizabeth Glass Geltman is an Associate Professor of Health Policy & Management at the CUNY School of Public Health, the Chair-elect of the Law Section of the American Public Health Association and the Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) funded Atlantic Emerging Technologies & Industrial Hygiene Training Center

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