Trump signs order scrapping key steps to fight global warming

US president orders EPA to start legal process of revoking Obama’s Clean Power Plan

US president Donald Trump signs an executive order on “energy independence”, eliminating Barack Obama-era climate change regulations, during an event at  Environmental Protection Agency  headquarters in Washington, US. Photograph: Carlos Barria/Reuters

US president Donald Trump signs an executive order on “energy independence”, eliminating Barack Obama-era climate change regulations, during an event at Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in Washington, US. Photograph: Carlos Barria/Reuters

 
Donald Trump

yesterday, ordering the Environmental Protection Agency to revoke Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) and scrapping several measures designed to combat global warming.

Heralding a “new energy revolution” that celebrates “American production on American soil”, Mr Trump signed an executive order reversing a number of measures designed to tackle global warming, including lifting a 14-month-old moratorium on federal lands being used for coal mining, and reviewing oil, gas and fracking regulations.

Arguably most significant was his announcement of a review of Obama’s signature Clean Power Plan by the Environmental Protection Agency.

While Mr Trump cannot legally roll back the 2015 legislation, he ordered the EPA to start the legal process of revoking and rewriting the plan, a process that is expected to take at least a year.

Mr Obama’s signature climate change policy, which restricts carbon emissions from coal-powered power plants across the US, had already been under attack.

The legislation has been on hold since last year following a federal court appeal by several Republican-controlled states and more than 100 energy companies.

‘Bringing back our jobs’ Signing the executive order at the headquarters of the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, the US president said the move was about “bringing back our jobs, bringing back our dreams, and making America wealthy again.”

Flanked by more than a dozen coal miners as he signed the order, Mr Trump said the new proposals were about “putting an end to the war on coal” which he said had been ongoing for longer than eight years as he pledged to bring back US manufacturing jobs to America.  

Mr Trump said he had met many miners on the presidential election campaign who had talked about the attacks on their jobs and livelihoods.

“I made them this promise. We will put our miners back to work,” Mr Trump said, predicting that the new proposals would lead to “unbelievable prospering all throughout our country”.

Though the executive order made no mention of the Paris climate agreement signed by the US and hundreds of other countries last September, the move to dismantle the Clean Power Plan is likely to significantly impinge on US ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  

Mr Obama’s Clean Power Plan obliged states to collectively reduce carbon emissions by 32 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Environmentalists immediately criticised the order, which they say will set back US energy policy by decades. The US is the world’s second largest emitter, and is seen as a leading player in the fight against global warming and climate change.

Former US vice-president and climate change activist Al Gore said the order was a “misguided step away from a sustainable, carbon-free future for ourselves and generations to come”.

“It is essential, not only to our planet, but also to our economic future, that the United States continues to serve as a global leader in solving the climate crisis by transitioning to clean energy,” he said in a statement.

Regulations

“We will eliminate federal overreach, restore economic freedom and allow our companies and workers to thrive and succeed on a level playing field for the first time in a long time,” he said, adding that the states, and not the federal government, were best placed to decide on environmental matters.

Mr Trump also thanked Scott Pruitt, the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency, who, as attorney general of Oklahoma, sued the federal government a number of times over environmental measures, including Mr Obama’s Clean Power Plan.

Mr Pruitt said earlier this month he did not necessarily believe that carbon leads to global warming.

On Sunday he described last year’s Paris climate agreement as a “bad deal”, arguing that China and India were treated too leniently.