Trump Signs Executive Order Unwinding Obama’s Climate Policies

  • Date: 28/03/17
  • The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Trump signed on Tuesday a much-anticipated executive order intended to roll back most of President Barack Obama’s climate-change legacy, celebrating the move as a way to promote energy independence and to restore thousands of lost coal industry jobs.

Flanked by coal miners at a ceremony at the Environmental Protection Agency, Mr. Trump signed a short document titled the “Energy Independence” executive order, directing the agency to start the legal process of withdrawing and rewriting the Clean Power Plan, the centerpiece of Mr. Obama’s policies to fight global warming.

The order also takes aim at a suite of narrower but significant Obama-era climate and environmental policies, including lifting a short-term ban on new coal mining on public lands.

The executive order does not address the United States’ participation in the 2015 Paris Agreement, the landmark accord that committed nearly every country to take steps to reduce climate-altering pollution. But experts note that if the Trump program is enacted, it will all but ensure that the United States cannot meet its clean air commitments under the accord.

Mr. Trump advertised the moves as a way to decrease the nation’s dependence on imported fuels and revive the flagging coal industry.

But energy economists say the order falls short of both of those goals — in part because the United States already largely relies on domestic sources for the coal and natural gas that fires most of the nation’s power plants.

“We don’t import coal,” said Robert N. Stavins, an energy economist at Harvard University. “So in terms of the Clean Power Plan, this has nothing to do with so-called energy independence whatsoever.”

Scott Pruitt, the E.P.A. administrator, said in an interview on ABC News on Sunday that the order will help the United States “be both pro-jobs and pro-environment.”

But coal miners should not assume their jobs will return if Trump’s regulations take effect.

The new order would mean that older coal plants that had been marked for closing would probably stay open for a few years longer, extending the demand for coal, said Robert W. Godby, an energy economist at the University of Wyoming.

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