On March 28, President Donald Trump fulfilled a campaign promise by signing an executive order repealing much of the Obama Administration’s climate agenda.
Reuters reports the “order’s main target” is the Clean Power Plan that requires states to “slash carbon emissions from power plants.” The action also reverses a ban on coal leasing on federal lands, ends rules aimed at curbing methane emissions from oil and gas production, and reduces the consideration given to climate change and carbon emissions in policy and infrastructure permitting decisions.
The Washington Post called Trump’s “sweeping executive order” the “most significant step yet in obliterating his predecessor’s environmental record,” and USA Today said Trump’s “sweeping repudiation of Obama-era environmental initiatives” is “substituting a strategy of combating climate change through international cooperation for an America-first energy policy.”
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times called the move “a retreat from the battle against climate change” and “an about-face for the US on energy” that places the country’s ability to meet the Paris climate deal obligations in “jeopardy.”
The AP reported that Trump declared during a speech attended by coal miners that the action is “‘the start of a new era’ in energy production” and said the order allows workers “succeed on a level playing field for the first time in a long time. That is what this is all about: bringing back our jobs, bringing back our dreams and making America wealthy again.”
The CBS Evening News showed Trump saying his administration “is putting an end to the war on coal,” and ABC World News Tonight showed him saying “we are going to put our coal miners back to work!”
The Wall Street Journal quoted EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt as saying that Trump is “rejecting the narrative that this country cannot be pro-energy and pro-environment. We’re not going to allow regulations here at the EPA to pick winners and losers.”
The Washington Times reported Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said on MSNBC that the administration is using an “all of the above” energy policy and will not pick winners and losers.
Media analyses take the position that the short-term effect of Trump’s order is negligible. According to NBC Nightly News, the reality is that “federal data shows mines have been losing jobs for decades under both parties and right now less than 75,000 coal jobs, compared to more than in 650,000 jobs in renewable energy, which can be less expensive to produce.”
The Wall Street Journal reported that companies and energy experts believe the order is unlikely to reverse the utility industry’s move toward natural gas, solar, and wind as the top sources of electricity. Further, the newspaper reports that while the order will possibly prolong the life of some coal-fired plants, large utilities indicate they will move forward with long-term investments to create power from alternative sources. This move, the companies said, is the result of not only regulations but also economic forces.
State legislatures are ramping up ramping up efforts to combat climate change. Bloomberg Politics reported that while Trump “scales down federal efforts to combat climate change, states are ramping up” and “fill[ing] a void being left by Trump.” Bloomberg Politics notes that California’s Air Resources Board “broke with Trump” by voting to uphold auto fuel efficiency rules and Illinois “offered a bailout to carbon-free nuclear producers.” Iowa and Michigan have increased incentives for renewable energy and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is set to sign a statewide fracking ban.