President Trump will try to land a knockout blow on his predecessor’s sprawling climate agenda by issuing an executive order today targeting at least nine actions that form the foundation of U.S. efforts to cut emissions and prepare for rising perils.
The “energy independence” order, to be signed at 2 p.m. today, underscores Trump’s belief that the seriousness of climate change was overblown by the past administration and deserves to be set aside in order to revive a struggling coal industry and encourage an unbridled boom in the production of oil and gas.
A senior White House official, when asked yesterday if the president agrees with scientists who say that people are largely responsible for rising temperatures, told reporters, “Yeah, sure.”
But the administration appears deeply skeptical about the extent of potential damage that climate change might cause, and the order to be signed today would leave the administration seemingly free of any policy to address the risks — both environmental and economic — that scientists have warned about for years.
“I mean, to the extent that the economy is strong and growing and you have prosperity, that’s the best way to protect the environment,” the White House official said in a briefing about the order. “But certainly, natural gas is important. Clean coal’s important. Nuclear is important. Renewables are important.”
Today’s executive order sets EPA on the road to rescind the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era rule to reduce emissions at power plants 32 percent by 2030. The official said rescinding the rule could take up to three years and is bound to face legal challenges.
The order also eliminates Obama-era efforts to improve adaptation, embed climate risks in national security apparatuses, reduce agency emissions, expand the importance of climate impacts in the National Environmental Policy Act and freeze new coal leases on public land. It also begins a review of methane regulations by EPA and the Bureau of Land Management and a rule on hydraulic fracturing by BLM. And it will instruct agencies not to use the social cost of carbon when weighing the costs and benefits of environmental regulation.
The order also promotes fossil fuel production. It requires agencies to identify “all regulations, all rules, all policies [and] guidance documents that serve as obstacles or impediments to domestic energy production,” the official said.
Then, in 180 days, the White House will use those agency plans to develop a “blueprint” for energy policy.
Trump vowed last May to revive jobs in the hard-hit towns of Appalachia by erasing the Clean Power Plan.
“We’re going to rescind all the job-destroying Obama executive actions,” Trump said then. “OK, remember that. We’re going to save the coal industry. We’re going to save that coal industry, believe me. We’re going to save it.”
Trump promised to revoke the climate rules within 100 days of taking office. It’s day 68.