Will the Trump administration back off coal-powered energy regulations? Will the new administration reverse efforts to cut greenhouse gases? Will restrictions on coal be lifted?

Some commentators anticipate these and other changes in environmental law and enforcement. As a practical matter, however, California companies should also expect continuity in their environmental obligations. The reason has to do with the difference between environmental laws and regulations.

Environmental laws reflect the work of lawmakers in written statutes. Unless declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court or amended by Congress, any environmental obligations imposed by statutory law will remain in effect. Regulations, in contrast, are typically the standards or rules adopted by an administrative agency, such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Regulations often explain how the EPA will enforce statutory laws.

There are many environmental laws and obligation that will remain in effect. Pursuant to the Paris Agreement, the United States has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas output by up to 28 percent by 2025. For easing coal-mining permits and leasing rights on federal land, however, President Trump might be able to move more quickly.

When it comes to the shifting political landscape on environmental licenses and permits, our California law firm recommends that companies seek legal advice. Licenses are typically obtained from a state or federal regulatory agency, but the continuing requirements for hazard waste compliance, air and water quality may be in flux. Our attorneys stay on top of these and other legal requirements so you don’t have to.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Trump has vowed to slash regulations. Where he might start and the hurdles he faces,” Don Lee and Jim Puzzanghera, Jan. 19, 2017