Louisiana Record

Monday, August 19, 2019

Loyola law professors support fight against Trump's attempt to rollback health and safety regulations

By Melissa Busch | Jun 22, 2017

NEW ORLEANS — Led by legal experts at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, law professors nationwide are challenging President Donald J. Trump’s executive order that directs agencies to forego issuing any new regulations, including health and safety measures, unless they rescind two others.

“He is trying to implement this quickly without Congress or any other regulatory agency,” Robert Verchick, a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans, told the Louisiana Record. “The administration has started a trend of over-reaching its power.”

Public Citizen, a Washington, D.C. nonprofit consumer rights advocacy group, has challenged the January 30 executive order, arguing that it is invalid under the U.S. Constitution and statutory law.

On May 24, Verchick, Karen C. Sokol, an associate law professor at Loyola University New Orleans, and a group of national administrative law experts drafted and filed an amicus curiae brief in the U. S. District Court for the District of Columbia. An amicus curiae brief is an argument filed by a party who feels a court case could affect its interests, though the filing party is not directly involved in the litigation.

Under the executive order, an agency may issue a new regulation only if it identifies two existing regulations for repeal. The order also mandates that the costs of new rules be offset by eliminating at least two other rules.

Opponents say the order will block agencies from repealing critical regulations or implementing new health, safety, environmental, consumer finance and worker rights protections.

Law officials argue the order is “fundamentally flawed because it violates established law and principles of our constitutional order and because it violates basic policies and practices of our modern government.”

The consequence, they say, is that regulations directed by Congress and designed to safeguard public health, safety and the environment could be delayed, weakened or withheld entirely. Additionally, the executive order remains silent on regulatory benefits, such as the Clean Air Act rules, which “saved over 164,000 lives in 2010 and are estimated to save over 237,000 lives annually by 2020,” according to Loyola University New Orleans.

“Clean air regulations produce significant health and safety benefits,” Verchick said. “For every dollar spent, there are $25 in benefits. The order is saying $1 in rules is not worth clean air.”

Verchick said this order also will impede technology, innovation and progress. For example, if driverless cars want to make their way onto the nation’s highways, the U.S. Department of Transportation would need to regulate them. Under the executive order, the department, which sets regulations for seat belts, airbags, anti-lock brakes and numerous others, would need to remove two of its existing rules.

“This is the worst type of decision making,” Verchick said. “The stakes are high. [The administration] is not thinking about the benefits. They are just thinking about the costs of industry.”

In addition to serving in the Obama administration as deputy associate administrator for policy at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2009 and 2010, Verchick currently is president of the Center for Progressive Reform, a nonprofit research organization that seeks to protect health, safety and the environment.

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Loyola University New Orleans