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Regulation buster Trump takes aim at the EPA

Among the Obama administration's major accomplishments during eight years in office was a sweeping series of environmental regulations governing everything from clean air and water to greenhouse gas emissions and auto fuel efficiency.

It looks like much of that work may be reversed in just a few days of the new Trump administration.

Donald Trump has broadly attacked a wide range of government regulations, echoing complaints of congressional Republicans and some business leaders that economic growth has suffered.

"We have been stuck in a terrible, over-regulated economy for eight years," former General Electric CEO Jack Welch told CNBC on Wednesday.

Welch and other critics of Obama administration regulations now have an opportunity to see many of them rolled back.

Trump has singled out Obama's Affordable Care Act and the landmark Dodd-Frank financial regulations as targets for repeal. But the list of rules subject to repeal includes a wide range of actions undertaken by the White House governing everything from food safety to internet network neutrality.

Republicans on Capitol Hill are already gearing up for the regulatory rollback.

"You're going to find that we are going to repeal a half dozen or more regulations in the first week of Congress," Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul told MSNBC on Wednesday. "And I'm excited about it because I think the regulations have been killing our jobs and making us less competitive with the world."

A swift reversal of White House policies would not be unusual. President Barack Obama made similar moves in the early days of his administration after succeeding Republican president George W. Bush. Those moves included some of the environmental policies and regulations that are now targeted for repeal by Trump.

"Environmental protection, what they do is a disgrace; every week they come out with new regulations." -Donald Trump in 2015

The president-elect has made no secret of his disdain for the ambitious agenda pursued by the Environmental Protection Agency.

"Environmental protection, what they do is a disgrace; every week they come out with new regulations," he told Fox News Sunday last year.

"Who's going to protect the environment?" asked host Chris Wallace.

"We'll be fine with the environment," Trump replied. "We can leave a little bit, but you can't destroy businesses."

Trump has begun mapping out his new environmental policy with a transition team that shares his deregulatory zeal. He is reportedly relying on Myron Ebell, director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute, to help him flesh out his transition plan for the EPA.

Trump has also promised to eliminate regulations on oil and gas exploration to boost development of fossil fuels and help spur the economy. To help him implement that policy, he is reportedly considering naming Forrest Lucas, the 74-year-old co-founder of oil products company Lucas Oil, as his interior secretary.

That agency has broad purview over energy policy, including oversight of offshore drilling, fracking regulations, protections for endangered species and supervision of national parks and wildlife refuges.

Obama's critics have targeted a wide range of environmental regulations, but one of the most contentious is the Clean Power Plan, which sets state-by-state caps on greenhouse gas emissions for power plants burning fossil fuels.

Those regulations have helped spur investment in a range of companies that are developing clean energy technologies. A rollback of the Clean Power Plan could pose a major risk to those companies, according to Colin Rusch, an analyst who follows the sector at Oppenheimer Equity Research.

The Obama administration has defended its environmental policy by pointing to the economic benefits of promoting clean energy industries and technological development.

"From catalytic converters to smoke-stack scrubbers, America has a legacy of innovating the world's leading environmental technologies — accounting for more than 1.5 million jobs and $44 billion in exports in 2008 alone," EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told a Washington, D.C., conference in 2014. "That's more than other big sectors like plastics and rubber products."

Trump has broad support in the Republican-controlled Congress for a major rollback of the Obama administration's environmental agenda.

But not all of his party supports the idea of dismantling the EPA. The list includes William D. Ruckelshaus, EPA administrator under Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Ronald Reagan, and William K. Reilly, the agency's administrator under President George H.W. Bush.

"Donald Trump has shown a profound ignorance of science and of the public health issues embodied in our environmental laws," the two said in a statement this summer. "He hasn't a clue about Republicans' historic contributions to science-driven environmental policy."