President Trump delivered on a campaign promise today to roll back Obama-era climate change policy with a “much-anticipated” executive order. The order, called the “Energy Independence” executive order, directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to begin withdrawing Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which was intended to cut carbon emissions created by coal-fired power plants. The Clean Power Plan would have cut emissions and reduced pollution from the power sector by 32 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2030.
While Obama called the Clean Power Plan the “single most important step America has ever taken in the fight against climate change,” Republicans have called it a “job killer.”
Trump said, “We’re ending the theft of American prosperity and reviving our beloved economy. The miners told me about the attacks on their jobs. I made them this promise. We will put our miners back to work.”
Coal miners gathered around as the President signed the order, followed with the comment:
C’mon fellas. You know what this is? You know what this says? You’re going back to work.
The President has long been critical of the Obama administration’s energy policies. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt told Fox & Friends that the president is setting a new course that is both “pro-jobs” and “pro-environment.” The executive order will lift a 14-month-old moratorium on new coal leases on federal lands while also suspending, rescinding or flagging several measures in an effort to boost domestic fossil fuel production, reports Fox News.Jack Gerard, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, supported the order in a statement that 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.” The API’s release called the executive order an important step in “restoring common sense regulations.”
However, many Democrats are criticizing the order, saying that coal jobs and coal energy is a thing of the past, and that the executive order won’t bring back the jobs or restore the coal industry to its former glory days. The New York Times reported that Robert W. Godby, an energy economist at the University of Wyoming, cited more mechanization as a reason why jobs aren’t coming back, even if there is an increase in coal production. They also argue that it is far more effective to grow the energy sector by encouraging people to work in renewable energy, particularly solar, which is growing at 12 times the rate of general job creation and already provides more Americans with jobs than oil and gas extraction.
In addition, the executive order won’t end current policy as it stands today. NPR reports that any effort to repeal the Clean Power Plan could prove lengthy, difficult and fraught with litigation” that could take years.
So what does this have to do with the 2015 Paris Climate Accord?
Well, nothing, exactly. But the 2015 Paris Agreement is on many minds today as President Trump, who has openly criticized U.S. policy previously. The New York Times reported that if the Trump program is enacted, it will most likely mean that the United States will not be able to meet its global warming commitments under the accord. The combination of the measures in Trump’s executive order will be far from meeting the commitments made at the Paris treaty to cut emissions by 26 percent from 2005 levels by 2025.
The Paris deal meant to reduce emissions to ensure the planet does not warm by more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. At this level, experts say the Earth would be “irrevocably locked into a future of extreme droughts, flooding, and shortages of food and water.”
Meeting the terms of the agreement without regulation in place are likely next to impossible. The Washington Times reported that even with them, it would have been hard.
“It was extraordinarily unlikely we would’ve met President Obama’s Paris pledge under the best of circumstances. But clearly, if the Trump administration goes through with what’s on the table so far, it will be impossible to meet the pledge,” said Stephen Eule, vice president for climate and technology at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy.
ExxonMobil, whose former CEO now presides as U.S. Secretary of State, wrote a letter to the Trump administration arguing that the Paris accord is “an effective framework for addressing the risks of climate change.” While the letter was written last week, it appeared just before Trump revealed his executive orders, reports The Financial Times. Officials for the Trump administration say participation in the Paris agreement is still “under discussion.” Breitbart News reported Scott Pruitt called the Paris agreement a “bad deal,” citing the Clean Air Act as enough to regulate domestic operations.
Those who appear to support Paris Climate Accord include Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and even North Dakota Republican Representative Kevin Cramer, who has supported Trump and many of his policies throughout his campaign and after his election. The letter said:
This target would cause irreparable harm to our economy, particularly our manufacturing and energy sectors, and should be rejected.