coal power Trump
CNN  — 

Set aside Michael Cohen’s guilty plea and allegation that he coordinated with President Donald Trump to cover up damaging information about alleged affairs with hush money. Set aside the guilty verdict for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in Alexandria, Virginia, at the same time Cohen was entering his plea in New York.

Set aside that there’s another Manafort trial looming, or that it’s hard to imagine Cohen’s allegations don’t lead to serious congressional hearings. Those dramas tend to override all others day-to-day, particularly in the national media most closely covering the Trump administration.

But there are also daily reminders, like Tuesday’s announcement of a rollback of Obama-era coal pollution rules, that this presidency will leave its mark on many other facets of American life.

There’s a lot Trump can do (and is doing) even without the help of Congress, which did pass landmark permanent tax cuts for corporations and temporary ones for individuals, but hasn’t been able to execute on other high-profile priorities.

(That tax reform bill, by the way, could very well mean the government has a lot less money to spend, depending on how the US economy fares. And a lot of how Trump changes Washington will have to do with how Congress decides to spend the nation’s money).

But in ways big and small, many of them expressly intended to roll back actions of the Obama administration, Trump and his Cabinet are changing things to their liking. Here’s a spin around some of the policies (just a sampling, really) Trump’s administration has pursued enacting this summer:


Headline: EPA rolls back Obama-era coal pollution rules as Trump heads to West Virginia

From CNN’s Jeremey Diamond and Ellie Kaufman: “The EPA… formally unveiled the details of its new plan to devolve regulation of coal-fired power plants back to the states, one that is expected to give a boost to the coal industry and increase carbon emissions nationwide…. The move would reverse Obama administration efforts to combat climate change and marks the fulfillment of a campaign promise at the heart of his appeal in coal-producing states like West Virginia – an appeal embodied by Trump’s 2016 campaign stops in the coal country of West Virginia, Kentucky and Pennsylvania, where Trump supporters waved “Trump Digs Coal” signs and where the President-to-be donned a coal-mining helmet.” (August 21)

It’s also worth reading this sidebar item on data that suggests this specific move by the EPA move will cause an additional 36,000 deaths per year.

Trump greatly prefers coal and has tried to prop that industry up. He dislikes renewable energy like, say, from wind turbines, which he dismisses as windmills that create a “killing field” for birds.


Headline: Trump administration wants to lower emissions standards for cars

From CNN’s Katie Lobosco and Peter Valdes-Dapena: “The administration wants to freeze a rule mandating that automakers work to make cars substantially more fuel efficient. It called its plan a “50-state fuel economy and tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions standard for passenger cars and light trucks.” The administration also proposed a withdrawal of California’s Clean Air Act preemption waiver. California and about a dozen states that follow its rules account for about a third of all the passenger vehicles sold in the United States. California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, called the proposal “reckless.” (August 2)


Tariffs! Tariffs! Tariffs! And maybe a trade deal or two in the offing. The trade wars Trump has tempted with China, Canada, Mexico and the EU don’t seem like they’re going anywhere any time soon. Sure, the US and China were locked in negotiations, but the latest news is that a new round of tariffs against China is in the offing. That would likely lead to a new round of tariffs in response. The economic leverage Trump promised has not yet become clear. But neither has the world economy imploded. The administration has had to pivot to help some farmers being hurt by retaliations from other countries. Separately promised US tariffs on automobiles may be delayed during talks with Canada and Mexico on renegotiating NAFTA, a top Trump priority. Here’s a look at all of Trump’s tariffs. And a side note from McClatchy, which reports that Trump’s budget chief Mick Mulvaney is trying to protect his home state from tariffs.

Loans for students

Headline: New Betsy DeVos rule would limit loan relief for defrauded students

From CNN’s Katie Lobosco: “Consumer groups blasted Education Secretary Betsy DeVos… over a new rule they say would make it harder for defrauded students to seek debt relief. Currently, students may be eligible for federal loan forgiveness if their college closed or was accused of fraudulent activity. More than 130,000 borrowers have applied since 2015, a majority of whom attended for-profit colleges.” (July 26)