- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Advocacy groups and a labor union are suing the Trump administration over the president’s executive order requiring federal agencies to repeal two regulations for every new regulation adopted.

Calling the order “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and not in accordance with law,” the groups allege in a lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court that President Trump’s directive will force the repeal of regulations or prevent agencies from adopting regulations that are “needed 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.”

They say the order violates the Administrative Procedure Act, which gives federal agencies their rule-making authority.

Mr. Trump’s executive order requires agencies to keep new regulations “budget neutral” — requiring that any costs associated with new regulations be offset by the elimination of two existing regulations and their associated costs.

In signing of the order on Jan. 30, Mr. Trump described it as a way to reduce unnecessary and often overlapping regulations.

“This will be the largest-ever cut by far in terms of regulation,” Mr. Trump said. “We are cutting regulations massively for small business and for large business.”

The groups that filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia are Public Citizen, a progressive consumer rights advocacy group; the Natural Resources Defense Council, a nonprofit international environmental advocacy group; and the Communications Workers of America, the nation’s largest communications and media labor union.

“No one thinking sensibly about how to set rules for health, safety, the environment and the economy would ever adopt the Trump Executive Order approach — unless their only goal was to confer enormous benefits on big business,” said Public Citizen President Robert Weissman.

“If implemented, the order would result in lasting damage to our government’s ability to save lives, protect our environment, police Wall Street, keep consumers safe and fight discrimination,” Mr. Weissman said. “By irrationally directing agencies to consider costs but not benefits of new rules, it would fundamentally change our government’s role from one of protecting the public to protecting corporate profits.”

White House press secretary Sean Spicer defended the order, saying Wednesday that the lawsuit “presumes a lot of outcomes that are wildly inaccurate.”

The lawsuit is the first to take aim specifically at Mr. Trump’s executive order on regulations.

Civil liberties groups, attorneys general and others have lodged a mounting number of legal challenges against the Trump administration over the president’s executive order temporarily suspending entry to the U.S. by citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries.

Meanwhile, several cities have sued over an executive order threatening to suspend federal funding to jurisdictions that do not support federal immigration efforts.

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