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Trump touts “eliminated” regulations. Environmental rules were hit the hardest.
President Trump gestures during his State of the Union speech. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

President Trump held up the number of regulations his administration has eliminated as a sign of progress in response to the needs of job-creating businesses across the country.

“In our drive to make Washington accountable, we have eliminated more regulations in our first year than any administration in history of our country,” Trump said to happy howls from the GOP side of the aisle.

“We have ended the war on American energy and we have ended the war on beautiful, clean coal,” he added.

Much of the rollback has concerned environmental regulations. In 2017, Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt alone targeted 19 rules for rollback, according to an analysis by The Post, turning the EPA into one of Trump’s most powerful agencies. Targeted Obama-era protections include those aiming to reduce coal waste and vehicle emissions.

In total, the Trump administration sought to roll back 63 environmental rules across all agencies through executive orders, Cabinet-level decisions or signed legislation — a number greater than that in any other policy area, according to The Post analysis. They include decisions to begin undoing Energy Department rules meant to make home appliances more energy efficient and Interior Department rules meant to curb methane emissions from natural gas and oil wells.

Earlier in the day, Pruitt testified before the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee, during which the panel’s Democrats took turns lambasting Pruitt and the Trump administration for abdicating its role as environmental protector by cutting down on regulations.

The scope of deregulatory actions taken by the EPA “certainly does not create certainty for the entities you regulate,” said Sen. Thomas R. Carper (Del.) the committee’s top Democrat. “Those aren’t achievements, Mr. Pruitt. Those are the exact opposite – clear failures to act.”

Through Trump touted “eliminated” regulations — past tense — the work his deputies have undertaken to unwind those rules has just begun. At every turn, environmental groups and Democratic states have tried to stop the Trump administration in court, with California alone suing the administration 26 times so far.

Fact-checking and analysis of Trump’s State of the Union 2018 address

The Washington Post is live-blogging President Trump’s first official State of the Union address to Congress tonight. The speech begins at 9p.m. Eastern time and the president is expected to be, well, presidential.

Post national reporters Ashley Parker and Michael Scherer write that Trump aides say “he will deliver a unifying speech on American values and patriotism, one that touches on everything from the just-passed Republican tax plan and the new immigration proposal to trade, infrastructure and national security. The question is whether the swirl of conflict and diversion that has monopolized so much of his first year in office will distract from the message he is trying to deliver.”

The Post’s chief congressional scribe, Paul Kane, points out that it’s not just Trump whose behavior can be unpredictable — it’s also that of “mercurial” congressional Republicans when it comes to the president.

From Paul: “Sometimes they are in bitter fights with Trump, challenging his nationalist policy approach as an affront to traditional conservatism while also questioning his mental fitness for office. Other times they drift into a deep public swoon for the president that seems to directly contradict their previous criticism.”

Check back here for frequent updates on the speech, including real-time fact-checking and analysis of what the president says on key issues like the economy, national security and infrastructure.

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