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Restoring Trump’s Overturned Environmental Rules Could Take Years

“When it comes to restoring the vast majority of these Obama environmental policies, the backslides have actually been made by putting in place new regulations,” Jeffrey Holmstead, an attorney representing fossil fuel companies who has served in the EPA in both Bush administrations. “In some cases it took two to three years. They will have to be replaced by new regulations. There is a legal process that must be followed. “

The work of restoring more comprehensive federal regulations on air, water and climate pollution will take even longer. One key reason, legal experts explained: When the Trump administration rescinded these rules, it almost never eliminated them entirely. Instead, they replaced strict federal pollution regulations with new, weaker pollution regulations.

The Biden administration, in turn, will seek to legally rescind these weak regulations and replace them with stricter regulations. And this legal process typically takes two years or more. For example, the Trump EPA rolled back the Obama administration’s biggest policy to curb climate change, a rule that required automakers to quickly increase passenger vehicle fuel consumption and, in so doing, reduce considerably their pollution by heat-trapping carbon dioxide. Pollution. To do this, the EPA had to follow a long legal path, formally issuing a proposed rule change, opening it up for public comment, drafting legal, economic and scientific justifications for the rule, and making complex technical analyzes of the impacts of the rule. new rule on road safety, air quality and consumer behavior.

Although the Trump administration began its overturning of Obama’s auto pollution rule in the early days of taking office, it was only completed last spring.

The same timeline could await Mr Biden as he seeks to restore rule.

“It’s a laborious and time-consuming process,” said Richard Revesz, professor of environmental law at New York University, who was on Mr. Biden’s shortlist to lead the EPA.

“No one doubts the power of the EPA to reinstate these auto pollution regulations,” Revesz said. “But they can’t just do away with Trump’s rules by executive order. They have to go through the same process – prepare all the scientific and economic analyzes, and you have to do everything right.

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108 Massachusetts chemist misconduct convictions can be overturned

Seven years after a disgraced former state chemist pleaded guilty to mismanaging drug samples in the Boston lab where she once worked, the reverberations of the case are still being felt.

Hundreds of people have been released from prison since chemist Annie Dookhan’s wrongdoing was revealed. In 2017, more than 20,000 cases affected by Ms. Dookhan’s misconduct were found to be eligible for dismissal. And this week, the Suffolk County district attorney decided to overturn 108 more convictions, the latest development in recent years.

District Attorney Rachael Rollins filed a motion Monday night to quash 108 cases involving Ms Dookhan, but which district attorneys did not decide to dismiss in 2017, when a Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling called for prosecutors to certify that they could produce evidence. in a new trial independent of the drug certificate or signed testimony of Ms Dookhan, according to a statement from Ms Rollins’ office on Tuesday.

Ms Rollins, who said the move was intended to “remove a huge stain on the legal system”, called the cases “forever marred by flagrant and reprehensible government misconduct.”

“No accused touched by this ignominious chapter in Massachusetts law enforcement history should continue to bear the burden of Dookhan’s deception, his sad and desperate need for attention and the enormous amount of wrong she has inflicted on so much statement.

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, she added, “it doesn’t make sense to spend extra resources on litigating Dookhan cases, some of which are over 15 years old.”

Ms Dookhan pleaded guilty in 2013 to 27 counts, including perjury, obstruction of justice and tampering with evidence. She was sentenced to three to five years in prison plus two years of probation.

Prospectors said that during her nine years at a Boston State pharmaceutical lab, where she was responsible for processing drug samples seized from suspects, Ms. Dookhan mishandled samples, forged signatures and returned positive results on drugs she had never tested.

All 108 convictions affected by Ms Rollins’ petition had been designated on List 3, meaning district attorneys did not attempt to overturn the cases in 2017, despite Ms Dookhan’s involvement. According to the statement, the nine remaining List 3 cases had already been the subject of new first instance motions, dismissals or a negotiated plea agreement.

“In those cases, there were mandatory minimum sentences which made it infinitely easier to persuade and induce defendants to plead guilty,” Ms. Rollins said of the List 3 cases.

Ms Rollins’ office said it was the first in the state to take such broad action on List 3 cases, adding that “Dookhan’s putrid legacy requires further fumigation.”

His office is also seeking to overturn the guilty pleas of dozens of people who the court found ineligible for redress because they pleaded guilty before receiving drug analysis test results, and it was concluded that the Ms. Dookhan’s misconduct did not affect their decision to plead guilty. .

In addition to those cases, 7,886 cases in Suffolk County were quashed and dismissed in 2017 “with prejudice”, meaning prosecutors could no longer pursue the charges.

“This shameful chapter in our history will take dedication and perseverance,” Ms. Rollins said, “and I will and we must.

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NEH funds restoration of statues overturned during protests

In response to an executive order from President Trump condemning the destruction of historic monuments in recent racial justice protests, the National Endowment for the Humanities is allocating $ 90,000 to repair or rebuild damaged statues, including that of Christopher Columbus who was toppled in Baltimore.

The agency said Friday it was providing funds for the restoration of three statues that were damaged during the summer protests: the Baltimore monument to Columbus, which was dumped in the city’s inner harbor on the 4th. July; a statue of an abolitionist and Union Army colonel, Hans Christian Heg, in Madison, Wisconsin .; and a replica of a 19th century statue in Madison called “Forward”.

The NEH said it would also help fund a new Frederick Douglass bronze in Rochester, New York. A statue of the famous abolitionist was destroyed in the city in July but was quickly replaced.

After the police assassination of George Floyd in Minneapolis, protests erupted across the country and protesters aimed to take down public statues, reigniting a debate over whether the monuments to national leaders with complicated heirlooms or violent should be maintained. Protesters targeted Confederation landmarks in particular – none of which were included in the NEH’s latest funding program.

Mr. Trump’s executive order, issued on July 3, called the destruction of monuments an “assault on our collective national memory” and established a task force dedicated to “the construction and reconstruction of monuments to American heroes.” NEH President Jon Parrish Peede was appointed a member of this working group.

The funding came from what the agency calls a President’s Grant, which is often used to safeguard cultural artifacts during emergencies like hurricanes.

The statues of Columbus have been targeted across the country for his role as a European colonizer whose travels led to the decimation of Native American populations, but any plans to remove any monuments from him are often rejected by Italian organizations. American.

The fate of the statue of Columbus in Baltimore was not clear. After protesters removed the statue, near the town’s Little Italy, and dragged it into the water, a group of Italian Americans fished the pieces of marble out of the water and kept them in a private warehouse, the Baltimore Sun reported last month. Now they will have significant help in restoring the statue.

Certain episodes of destruction of monuments were more difficult to reconcile with the messages of the demonstrators. In Rochester, officials questioned who destroyed the Douglass statue after it was found on July 5 near a river gorge. Mr Trump called the perpetrators “anarchists,” but police said they had no evidence to back it up.

The NEH said the funds would go to Rochester Community TV to support the creation of another statue of Douglass, who lived in the city for about 25 years. He said a possible site for the statue would be Rochester Airport.

In Madison, the statue of Union Army Colonel and “Forward,” which depicts a woman standing at the bow of a boat and holding an American flag, was taken to Detroit for repair, the Milwaukee reported. Sentinel Journal this month. The statues will be relocated to the grounds of the State Capitol.

The NEH also announced on Friday that $ 30,000 would be allocated to digitize archival material documenting the Great Americans Hall of Fame at Bronx Community College, an open-air colonnade lined with busts of historical figures like George Washington Carver and Edgar Allan Poe; the scanned documents are intended to be used for educational purposes while the colonnade is closed during the pandemic.