President Trump will take the most significant step yet in wiping out his predecessor’s environmental record Tuesday, instructing federal regulators to rewrite key rules curbing U.S. carbon emissions.
According to the Washington Post, “the sweeping executive order also seeks to lift a moratorium on federal coal leasing and remove the requirement that federal officials consider the impact of climate change when making decisions.”
“This policy is in keeping with President Trump’s desire to make the United States energy independent,” said a senior administration official who briefed reporters on the directive Monday evening and asked for anonymity to speak in advance of the announcement. “When it comes to climate change, we want to take our course and do it in our own form and fashion.”
Some of the measures could take years to implement and are unlikely to alter broader economic trends that are shifting the nation’s electricity mix from coal-fired generation to natural gas and renewables. The order is silent on whether the United States should withdraw from the 2015 Paris climate agreement, under which it has pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions between 26 and 28 percent by 2025 compared to 2005 levels, because the administration remains divided on that question.
The order comes after several moves by Trump to roll back Obama-era restrictions on mining, drilling and coal- and gas-burning operations. In his first two months as president, Trump has nullified a regulation barring surface-mining companies from polluting waterways and set aside a new accounting system that would have compelled coal companies and other energy firms to pay more in federal royalties.
The administration also has announced it will reconsider stricter fuel-efficiency standards for cars and light trucks and has approved two major oil pipelines, Dakota Access and Keystone XL, that Obama had halted.
There is hope, however, that the president might fall short of his main goal of ordering the EPA to rewrite the 2015 regulation that limits greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants stands. This is because the agency must first get permission from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, where the rule is tied up in litigation, to revisit the matter. Then, agency officials will have to justify reaching the opposite conclusion of the Obama EPA, which argued it was technically feasible and legally warranted to reduce carbon pollution by about one-third by 2030, compared with 2005 levels.
Hopefully, that will stop this mad man in the White House from taking us back to the days of unending thick fog.