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By Michael Bastasch
President Donald Trump signed an executive order to rescind a slew of Obama administration policies aimed at tackling global warming and promote “energy independence.”
“The miners told me about the attacks on their jobs and their livelihoods,” Trump told those gathered at Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) headquarters where he signed the executive order Tuesday, also thanking career employees at EPA and coal miners who attended the signing.
“My administration is putting an end to the war on coal,” Trump said.
The order asks EPA to review major regulations limiting carbon dioxide emissions from new and existing power plants, the Clean Power Plan (CPP). The order also repeals Obama-era global warming directives.
The CPP aimed to cut CO2 emissions from existing power plants 32 percent by 2030. It also limited emissions from new power plants, which effectively banned new coal plants from being built.
The Supreme Court issued a stay against implementing the CPP last year after more than two dozen states sued to have the rule overturned. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt was part of that lawsuit while attorney general of Oklahoma.
Pruitt has been making the rounds with media outlets to promote Trump’s “energy independence” order. Pruitt stressed the administration aims to be pro-energy and pro-environment.
“It’s going to create jobs in the oil and gas sector,” Pruitt told Fox News Tuesday morning. “For too long, over the last several years, you’ve had certain industries, certain sectors of our economy that were within the cross-hairs of the EPA.”
“That is not going to happen anymore,” Pruitt said.
Trump’s “energy independence” order goes beyond EPA. The president is also asking the Interior Department to end a moratorium on new coal leases on federal lands.
EPA and Interior will also be ordered to review regulations on oil and natural gas drilling. EPA will review regulations on methane emissions from new oil and natural gas systems , and Interior will review rules for hydraulic fracturing on federal lands.
Trump will also scrap Obama administration directives to federal agencies, including the “social cost of carbon” estimate and a guidance on how officials should consider global warming when approving infrastructure projects under the National Environmental Policy Act.
The order also rescinds several other Obama executive actions and policies on global warming, including a 2013 strategy documents put out by the White House. An Obama order requiring the U.S. military to take global warming into account in national security assessments will also be rescinded.
Finally, Trump’s order requires federal agencies to review all rules already on the books that could hinder energy development within the next 180 days. Trump promised to get rid of “job-killing” energy regulations on energy production when taking office.
One thing Trump’s order won’t include is a condemnation of the Paris climate agreement that went into effect last year. Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner intervened to have language critical of the United Nations agreement stripped from the order, according to administration sources.
Democrats and environmentalists have opposed Trump’s efforts to roll back global warming regulations limiting coal production. Many activist groups plan on suing the Trump administration to slow down the regulatory rollback.
“Scott Pruitt and the president’s other minions must follow the rule of law,” wrote David Doniger, a lobbyist at the Natural Resource Defense Council who helped write the “blueprint” for the CPP.
“They can tear down these regulations only using the same legal process it took to build them. Their final decisions must pass muster in the courts,” Doniger wrote in a blog post.
Critics also say rescinding EPA regulations will do little if anything to bring back coal job, which Trump promised on the campaign trail. The coal industry has been in decline for years due to competitively-priced natural gas and federal regulations.
While all the jobs may not come back, Trump’s definitely brought optimism back to coal country.
Murray Energy CEO Bob Murray said while Trump won’t be able to bring coal mining jobs back — largely due to automation — he can “level the playing field” for the coal industry.
“We have to get the government out of the manipulation of the energy markets,” Murray told The Guardian.