Enlarge / Donald Trump signs H.J. Res. 38, disapproving the rule submitted by the US Department of the Interior known as the Stream Protection Rule.

The Department of Interior’s Stream Protection Rule, which was signed during the final month of the Obama administration, “addresses the impacts of surface coal mining operations on surface water, groundwater, and the productivity of mining operation sites.” (credit: Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images)
The Trump administration’s decision to terminate its predecessor’s Clean Power Plan, accomplished via an executive order, would seem to be a carefully crafted decision with an air of finality about it.
It neatly avoided rejecting mainstream climate science, opting instead to eliminate the only federal plan for doing anything about it.
The reality is far more complex. Unlike other actions by the Obama administration, which occurred late in his second term, the Clean Power Plan had gone through the entire federal rulemaking process.

To get rid of it, the process has to be repeated in its entirety.

And the scientific document that formed the foundation for the Clean Power Plan won’t be touched by the reversal.
Its existence is likely to leave the Trump EPA in a legally awkward position, one where they’ll have to come up with some regulation to tackle climate change.
Making and breaking the rules
While federal regulatory actions can often seem arbitrary, they’re the result of a highly formalized process.

To begin with, they’re grounded in some regulatory activity that Congress has delegated to the executive branch.

For example, it would be unreasonable to expect that Congress could pass individual laws to ensure the safety of every chemical humans might be exposed to.
Instead, Congress has determined under which circumstances regulatory agencies can act on a chemical and provided guidelines on what those actions can entail.
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