Timeline of the EPA Under the Trump Administration

Timeline of the EPA Under the Trump Administration

By Naomi Zimmerman, CCNH High School intern

The United States makes up about 5% of the world’s population, yet consumes about 20% of the energy that is used internationally and produces about half of the globe’s trash. A number of environmental issues plague the country, including acid rain, water and air pollution, and desertification. Despite these facts, which highlight the need for stronger environmental protections, the scope of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been dramatically reduced under the Trump Administration.

The EPA, created in 1970 under Richard Nixon, provides federal guidelines for environmental regulation, with the goal of protecting the environment and human health. At the time, state and local regulations were deemed ineffective, and there was a growing public discontent with how environmental issues were being handled. The EPA provided a platform for federal research and response to environmental conditions.

The timeline below highlights some of the important environmental legislation created under the Obama Administration, and also illustrates the impact of the Trump Administration on the EPA. 


June 29th, 2015 - Clean Water Rule

Created to protect the streams and wetlands in the U.S., the Clean Water Rule more clearly defined the waterways protected under the Clean Water Act, which was passed in 1972.  The rule includes small streams and tributaries that flow into larger bodies of water as protected under the law.

August 3rd, 2015 - Clean Power Plan

The Clean Power Plan sought to reduce carbon emissions from power plants while endorsing cleaner energy sources. It aimed to reduce carbon emissions from power plants 32% by 2030.

December 7th, 2016 - Trump chooses Scott Pruitt to head the EPA

Since 2011, Scott Pruitt has sued the EPA 13 times in an effort to loosen various regulations, including legislation that aims to reduce air pollution from power plants and ground-level ozone levels.

January 21st, 2017 - President Trump Inauguration

January 23rd, 2017 - EPA Cash Freeze

Just days after his inauguration, the Trump Administration issued a statement that froze EPA grants and contracts. The EPA normally issues more than $4 billion in grants and contracts to scientists, state led research, environmental justice projects, and universities. The freeze ended less than a week later.

January 24th, 2017 - Revival of Oil Pipelines

Trump signed executive orders that allowed drilling to resume on the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines. These pipelines have been very controversial; critics contend that the pipelines pose environmental threats due to possible leakage of the pipes. The Dakota Access pipeline also poses a threat to Native American water supply and burial sites.

February 28th, 2017 - Removal of Clean Water Rule

Trump signed an executive order that requested the EPA withdraw and reconsider the Clean Water Rule, in an effort to eliminate the legislation. Consequently, the EPA has now proposed a new rule that would rescind the Clean Water Rule and reinstate regulations prior to its passage in 2015.

March 9th, 2017 - Scott Pruitt says CO2 isn’t primary contributor to global warming

The head of the EPA stated to CNBC that he thought more research needed to be done on climate change, and therefore he doesn't believe there's enough data to conclude that CO2 is a primary contributor to global warming.

March 13th, 2017 - Budget Cuts

The Trump Administration released its proposed budget, in which it listed that the EPA’s budget would be cut by 31%. This includes firing 19% of the EPA’s workforce.

March 28th, 2017 - Repeal of the Clean Power Plan

The Energy Independence Executive Order mandates agencies that control energy consumption must submit their energy plans  to the federal government for revision; this includes the Clean Energy Power Plan. The government will propose changes to these plans to work towards energy independence and revoke regulations which do not bolster the coal industry.

June 1st, 2017 - Withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreements

Trump announced that the U.S. was withdrawing from the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. The accord was signed by 195 nations and sought to mitigate climate change internationally. Under the agreement, the U.S. was committed to significantly reducing its carbon emissions - pledging by 2025 to decrease them by 1.6 billion tons.

June 1st, 2017 - Resistance from CA, WA, and NY

Following Trump’s announcement about the withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreements, the governors of California, Washington, and New York united to resist these measures. Together, they form the U.S. Climate Alliance in an effort to uphold the agreement in their respective states, which seeks to reduce carbon emissions by 26-28% of the 2005 levels by 2025. Joining the resistance are seven additional governors as well as 83 mayors of various cities, all committed to upholding the requirements of the Climate Agreements.

The Future

Despite the current Administration's actions regarding environmental policy, people still have opportunities to resist destructive environmental practices and policies. There are myriad ways that you can get involved in in your local and national community.

What you can do:

  • Contact local (or federal!) political representatives and advocate for immediate action against climate change

    • Although Trump repealed the Clean Power Plan, states can still chose to reduce their carbon emissions

  • Earth Justice, an environmental law nonprofit, has a number of petitions that advocate for safe environmental conduct and protest irresponsible environmental policies

  • Vote for politicians who support effective environmental legislation

  • https://350.org: Check out the "Get Involved" section

  • Greenpeace’s Get Involved tab has a number of exciting opportunities to take action, including donating and signing a petitions. You can also sign up to be a part of the Summer of Resistance, which is organized action against destructive environmental practices and includes organizing events and being a caller/texter.

  • Some reliable environmental news sources: