Republican lawmakers pushed their controversial tax bill — in which corporations came out as the biggest winners — through the legislature ahead of the holiday break, but that was just the first gift of the holiday season for big business interests.
During the break, the Trump administration quietly continued to reward large corporations via major regulatory rollbacks. President Donald Trump told a gathering of wealthy Mar-a-Lago members on December 22, “you all just got a lot richer,” in reference to the tax bill. Then, during the week that followed — while the media largely focused on Trump’s golf schedule — Trump overturned or weakened regulations opposed by large corporations.
The rollbacks, catalogued by the Washington Post’s Daily 202, included the Interior Department overturning a 2015 Obama administration regulation on fracking, which had put environmental limits on fracking operations on public lands. The regulation had been opposed by the oil and gas industry, and was disputed in court.
“The regulation from the Bureau of Land Management … would have tightened standards for well construction and wastewater management, required the disclosure of the chemicals contained in fracking fluids, and probably driven up the cost for many fracking activities,” the Post reported.
The Trump administration also weaked two rules enacted following the 2010 BP oil spill at the request of the oil industry. The rules had been designed to prevent a repeat of the devastating Deepwater Horizon spill.
In another gift to energy companies — which had been opposed to the rule — the Trump administration rolled back an Obama-era policy that protected migratory birds. Under the policy, oil, gas, wind and solar companies which accidentally killed birds can no longer be prosecuted, even though studies found that millions of birds are killed each year when caught in wind turbine blades, oil-waste pits and power lines.
The Trump administration also sided with nursing home providers over the elderly by undoing Obama-era regulations that imposed fines against nursing homes that either harm residents or put them at risk of injury.