Trump signs order to roll back Obama’s climate moves
President Trump on Tuesday signed a wide-ranging executive order to start the process of rolling back former President Obama’s aggressive climate change agenda, promising that the measure would create jobs in the fossil fuel industry.
Trump signed the order in a ceremony at the headquarters of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the agency responsible for many of the major policies being targeted.
He was flanked by coal miners — whom EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt joked “might never have been to the EPA before” — as well as cabinet officials and Vice President Mike Pence, who celebrated the executive order as a repudiation of the Obama administration’s climate agenda.
“My administration is putting an end to the war on coal,” Trump said, using a term coined by the industry and its supporters to describe government regulations.“I am taking an historic step to lift the restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion and to cancel job-killing regulations.”
The administration is pitching the order primarily as a move to increase the nation’s energy independence, with the added effect of increasing jobs in affected sectors and related industries.
Trump said the order fulfills a promise made to coal miners during his presidential campaign. He recounted a trip to West Virginia when he met with miners who told him they wanted to continue working in the industry despite a downturn in employment.
“I said, if that’s what you want to do, that’s what you’re doing to do,” Trump said.
“The miners told me about the attacks on their jobs and their livelihoods. … I made them this promise: we will put our miners back to work.”
Experts and environmental groups challenge the assertion that rolling back Obama’s policies would benefit energy independence or jobs.
“Right now, clean energy jobs already overwhelm dirty fuels in nearly every state across America, and that growth is only going to continue as clean energy keeps getting more affordable and accessible by the day,” Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said in a statement.
“These facts make it clear that Donald Trump is attacking clean energy jobs purely in order to boost the profits of fossil fuel billionaires.”
The most significant piece of the order instructs the EPA to formally consider repealing the Clean Power Plan. It was the central piece of Obama’s second-term climate agenda, setting a 32 percent cut in the power sector’s carbon dioxide emissions by 2030.
Federal regulators are also asked under the order to consider repealing the EPA’s carbon limits for newly built power plants and methane emissions standards for oil and natural gas drilling from the EPA and the Interior Department.
It also has some immediate effects. The order stops Interior’s moratorium on new coal-mining leases on federal land, something Obama instituted to study how to charge coal companies for the climate impacts of the fuel they mine on federal property.
It also stops policies asking federal agencies to consider climate change in environmental reviews, a government-wide accounting method for climate change regulations called the “social cost of carbon” and Obama executive orders on climate, like one asking that infrastructure be built to withstand a future climate affected by global warming.