On Tuesday, Trump is signing what could be one of the most important executive orders in his presidency. This order will do away with climate change rules – and subsequent loss of jobs and money – President Obama signed into effect during his second term. The order is being referred to as the “energy independence” executive order, and will work to bring jobs to the energy industry.
Per Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt, President Trump is issuing the order to make “sure that we have a pro-growth and pro-environment approach to how we do regulation in this country.”
The order also seeks to lift the ban on federal coal leasing instituted by Obama, which has had a very negative effect on states who depend on coal mining.
“Coal production fell in 2016,” says Robert Godby, director of the Center for Energy Economics and Public Policy at the University of Wyoming.
In fact, it’s fallen for several years as utilities have switched to cheaper natural gas. That means existing coal reserves have grown bigger.
“The coal market is so weak,” Godby says, “and some companies are coming out of bankruptcy.” He says they simply don’t have the cash to make the enormous investment required to lease federal land for future coal production. Godby says the decline in coal leasing — and the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars a year in royalties — has been painful for Wyoming. The state had been using the money to build new schools, but is now facing a large budget deficit. By making it easier for companies to mine coal, the administration is working to help states like Wyoming get back on their feet.
“This policy is in keeping with President Trump’s desire to make the United States energy independent,” said a senior administration official. “When it comes to climate change, we want to take our course and do it in our own form and fashion.”
The order also comes after several moves by Trump to roll back Obama-era restrictions on mining, drilling and coal and gas-burning operations. In his first two months as president, Trump has voided a regulation that placed strict rules on surface-mining companies. He also set aside a new accounting system that would have compelled coal companies and other energy firms to pay more in federal royalties.
The point of the order is to bring jobs back into the United States in the coal industry. By cutting costs for companies, the Trump administration is making it much easier for executives to hire more labor and generate more revenue.
Previously, Trump also revamped two oil pipeline projects – Dakota Access and Keystone XL – that Obama halted during the last few days of his presidency. The pipelines, which were already 90 percent completed, would have resulted in a huge loss of jobs if Trump had not intervened and reinstated the projects.
“He’s made a pledge to the coal industry and he’s going to do whatever he can to help those workers,” the senior administration official went on to say. U.S. coal jobs, which number about 75,000, have been declining for decades. The administration has not yet given an expected amount of job growth for the industry, as it is still considering more options to increase job availability. This new order is just the beginning.
President Trump is also proposing budget cuts to the EPA, which have many liberals protesting – most likely with signs made from paper that become litter once they’re done with them because liberals and hypocrisy go hand-in-hand. Point: they don’t truly care about the environment until someone starts making changes they don’t understand or refuse to become knowledgeable about.
Trump’s proposal is aimed at eliminating funds for the Clean Power Plan and “reorienting” the EPA on air pollution. It also calls for a 31 percent spending reduction for EPA, slashing the budget by $2.6 billion.
Many are fearful that Trump is simply foregoing climate change rules to help make more money for his closest business allies, but that narrative could not be further from the truth. Nevertheless, the left is relentless.
“In taking a sledgehammer to U.S. climate action, the administration will push the country backward, making it harder and more expensive to reduce emissions,” said Andrew Steer, President and CEO of the World Resources Institute, in a statement. “Climate science is clear and unwavering: mounting greenhouse gas emissions are warming our planet, putting people and business in harm’s way.”
Meanwhile, the administration is getting a large amount of support from energy companies who are looking forward to the job and revenue increases.
In a written statement, American Petroleum Institute President and CEO Jack Gerard said, “We look forward to working with the Trump administration and Congress on forward-looking energy policies that will help ensure the United States continues leading the world in the production and refining of oil and natural gas, and in the reduction of carbon emissions.”
While Trump’s executive orders kick off a rule-making process with the goal of ending the Clean Power Plan, they won’t end the policy outright. Any effort to repeal the rule could prove lengthy, difficult and fraught with litigation.
“Once you have something like the Clean Power Plan — a final rule-making — then that can’t be withdrawn using any process other than the one that was used to create it,” says Nathan Richardson, an executive at Resources for the Future. That means the entire process to undo the plan could take years.
The Trump administration has time, though. The Clean Power Plan is currently held up in federal court after lawsuits from industry groups and states challenged its legality. A ruling could be months away and any decision — for or against the plan — will likely be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Congress could also step in and amend the Clean Air Act to say the EPA shouldn’t regulate greenhouse gases, nullifying the Clean Power Plan, but that could prove politically challenging.
Either way, Trump’s newest executive order is a step in the right direction for his ongoing agenda to ‘Make America Great Again.’