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Trump’s ‘One-In, Two-Out’ Executive Order on Regulations Violates Constitution and Should Be Blocked, Groups Tell Court

May 16, 2017

Trump’s ‘One-In, Two-Out’ Executive Order on Regulations Violates Constitution and Should Be Blocked, Groups Tell Court

Order Threatens Public Health and Safety Protections

WASHINGTON, D.C. – An executive order issued in January by President Donald Trump that directs federal agencies to repeal two federal regulations for every new one they issue violates the Constitution and should be blocked, Public Citizen, Communications Workers of America and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) told a court late Monday.

The groups sued on Feb. 8, asking the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to declare that the order cannot be lawfully implemented and to bar the agencies from implementing it. Late Monday, the groups filed a motion for summary judgment asking the court to rule in favor of the plaintiffs. Earthjustice is co-counsel on the case.

The Jan. 30 executive order requires new rules to have a net cost of $0 this fiscal year, without taking into account the value of the benefits of public protections. The executive order corrupts agency decision-making across the board. Under the order, every decision to issue a significant new rule, every decision about the content of the rule and every decision about repealing a rule must be made under the shadow of the order’s mandate to identify and repeal two regulations to offset the cost of any one regulation issued.

The order will block, weaken or delay regulations authorized or mandated by Congress to protect health, safety and the environment, across a broad range of topics—from automobile safety, to occupational health, to air pollution, to endangered species, the groups told the court.

For instance, under the law, when promulgating a federal motor vehicle safety standard, the U.S. Department of Transportation must consider relevant vehicle safety information, whether a proposed standard is reasonable and appropriate, and the extent to which the standard will reduce traffic accidents and deaths. The agency can consider the cost of compliance with a particular rule but must weigh that against safety. The executive order’s requirement that the agency tie new vehicle safety standards to the costs of unrelated rules is inconsistent with this governing law.

“No statute authorizes a regulatory agency to make a new safety regulation contingent on repealing two existing ones,” said Allison Zieve, director of Public Citizen Litigation Group and lead counsel for the plaintiffs. “No statute gives the president power to condition an agency’s congressionally delegated authority to issue a new rule on the offset of its costs through repeal of other rules.”

“Fortunately, our Constitution has checks on overreaching by a president who directs agencies to violate the laws giving them their authority,” said Patti Goldman, a managing attorney at Earthjustice. “This is one of those pivotal moments in which the courts are called upon to rein in a president who has exceeded his power. President Trump’s executive order hamstrings the agencies charged with protecting our health and safety.”

Read the motion for summary judgment.