Trump to wipe out Obama's climate change record
US President Trump will take the most significant step yet in obliterating his predecessor's environmental record on Tuesday, instructing federal regulators to rewrite key rules curbing US carbon emissions.
The sweeping executive order also seeks to lift a moratorium on federal coal leasing and remove the requirement that federal officials consider the impact of climate change when making decisions.
The order sends an unmistakable signal that just as President Barack Obama sought to weave climate considerations into every aspect of the federal government, Trump is hoping to rip that approach out by its roots. "This policy is in keeping with President Trump's desire to make the United States energy independent," said a senior administration official who briefed reporters on the directive Monday evening and asked for anonymity to speak in advance of the announcement. "When it comes to climate change, we want to take our course and do it in our own form and fashion."
Some of the measures could take years to implement and are unlikely to alter broader economic trends that are shifting the nation's electricity mix from coal-fired generation to natural gas and renewables.
The order is silent on whether the United States should withdraw from the 2015 Paris climate agreement, under which it has pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions between 26 and 28 percent by 2025 compared to 2005 levels, because the administration remains divided on that question. The order 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 nullified a regulation barring surface-mining companies from polluting waterways and set aside a new accounting system that would have compelled coal companies and other energy firms to pay more in federal royalties.
The administration also has announced it will reconsider stricter fuel-efficiency standards for cars and light trucks and has approved two major
oil pipelines, Dakota Access and Keystone XL, that Obama had halted. Accelerating fossil-fuel production on federal lands and sidelining climate considerations could lead to higher emissions of the greenhouse gases driving climate change and complicate a global effort to curb the world's carbon output.
But Trump has repeatedly questioned whether climate change is underway and emphasised that he is determined to deliver for the voters in coal country who helped him win the Oval Office.
"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 said.
US coal jobs, which number about 75,000, have been declining for decades. The official did not predict how many jobs might be spurred by this shift in policy. Trump and many of his top aides have expressed skepticism about climate change, while others say human activity is to blame for global warming.