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Trump’s Policies Will Boost Some Environmental Services Opportunities but Shrink Others

On November 9th, citizens of the United States woke up to see that - surprisingly to most - they had elected Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States of America. Among the political dispositions which helped get him elected are a number of environmental stances worrisome to those who have focused on a conservationist agenda, such as the feeling that the EPA is a “disgrace” of an agency, the Clean Power Plan must be eliminated, and that the COP 21 agreements by the US are unconstitutional. Taken at face value, a Republican president with a republican house, senate, and an empty Supreme Court seat to fill spells bad news for environmental protection.

Although this is probably true, the effect on the environmental industry as a whole is far more nuanced. Trump’s agenda isn’t one of progressive environmental legislation, but he is a proponent of work which creates the need for environmental services. His ambitious plans for $1 trillion in private infrastructure spend, if executed, will create myriad opportunities for various types of permitting, site inspections, environmental monitoring, and impact assessments. The President-elect’s intentions to declaw regulation inhibiting the US extractives industry could also mean revenue opportunities in air emissions management, monitoring, remediation, and hazardous waste management among other things. Looking in the long-term, a four-year absence of strong carbon regulation could even potentially mean increased climate change adaptation and resiliency work down the road.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, some of Trump’s policies will damp down opportunities for environmental services providers. It’s unlikely that the EPA will see any increase in budget, so last year’s 148% increase in penalties, fines, and fees is unlikely to be repeated. Less pressure on firms from the EPA should mean less urgency around environmental optimization initiatives. The Water Of The United States (WOTUS) rule, currently in the US Court of Appeals, is now far more likely to be significantly modified. This will eliminate an anticipated increase in water permitting work. Finally, a general lack of an environmental vision will mean that increasingly stringent regulation, the main driver of the environmental services market, will be essentially off the table.

Verdantix’s upcoming report titled ‘US EH&S Services: Market Size and Forecast 2016 – 2020’ will provide a more detailed analysis of the impacts the upcoming political shift will have on the environmental services market, as well as predict how the market size will change over 13 different services lines. Considering Trump’s unpredictable nature and history of following an untraditional agenda, it is hard to predict exactly which of his policies and decisions will closely resemble his aggressive campaign rhetoric. That said, his pro-industry posture will mean that the environmental services providers will have the opportunity to recoup revenue lost to weaker regulation in the form of work such as supporting new construction, fossil-fuel energy, and a potential insourcing of American manufacturing.