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Trump’s Last-Minute Climate Maneuvers Face a Slow Dead End

The Biden administration has plenty of options to reverse unfriendly regulations. Not all of them are fast.

Outgoing U.S. President Trump waves as he boards Marine One and departs the White House on Jan. 20.
Outgoing U.S. President Trump waves as he boards Marine One and departs the White House on Jan. 20.

Photographer: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

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On Jan. 13, with the nation’s attention riveted on the vote to impeach President Trump again, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a new rule severely limiting its own ability to regulate heat-trapping gases. A little over a week earlier, as would-be insurrectionists were gathering in Washington, D.C., the outgoing administration finalized a rule rendering the vast majority of public health data off limits to policymakers.

Eleventh-hour executive actions are a hallmark of presidential transitions, and experts see little in the way of lasting impact as President Joe Biden moves from his inauguration on Wednesday into an expected flurry of policy moves from the new White House. Late environmental rules that conflict with Biden’s ambitious climate agenda can mostly be reversed, some just as hastily as they were implemented.