Trump To Sign Order Easing Energy Regulations

Posted March 28, 2017

Donald Trump has previously said he is considering withdrawing the USA from the Paris Agreement because, in his opinion, "nobody really knows" if climate change is real.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said Sunday on ABC's "This Week" that an executive order the president will sign Tuesday "will address the past administration's effort to kill jobs throughout the country through the Clean Power Plan", a reference to a regulation limiting greenhouse gases emitted by electric utilities. His Environmental Protection Agency is aiming to aggressively roll back Obama-era environmental regulations.

The Clean Power Plan was the mainstay of attempts by the Obama administration to shift the United States economy from one largely run on fossil fuels to renewable energy. The initiative has been in legal limbo since the Supreme Court stayed it while it was reviewed by a federal appeals court. It could take some time to work through the courts. Trump will direct the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management to lift the freeze on coal leasing on its land, which has been in effect since December 2015.

The EPA plan is meant to reduce climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired and natural gas power plants, with a goal of reduce greenhouse emissions up to 32% by 2030.

Trump's executive order also is set to revoke six specific directives from his predecessor, including Obama's broad strategy for paring emissions of methane released from oil and gas operations. This will not have a major impact on domestic coal production, since the government has sold one set of coal leases since October 2012, and has estimated that it has already granted leases that are equivalent to a 20-year supply of coal.

Even without the EPA's Clean Power Plan in force because of the Supreme Court stay, using coal to generate electricity has been in decline as a result of previous pollution regulations and competition from low-priced natural gas, solar and wind. The rollback of Obama's energy plan will allow plants to produce electricity more cheaply, hopefully passing on those savings to consumers.

While many West Coast and Northeastern states are already well into such planning, the Clean Power Plan was fiercely resisted by numerous states in the center of the country-many of which have the dirtiest and most coal-intensive grid mixes. And whatever happens will inevitably be challenged in court by those same environmental groups. Critics say the number - now almost $40 for every metric ton of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere - gives artificial precision to uncertain conditions almost 300 years in the future.