Trump Order Rescinds Obama Climate Initiatives

Costs of Carbon Emissions No Longer Considered Relevant

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Posted: Wednesday, April 5, 2017 9:45 am

In a sweeping executive order, U.S. President Donald Trump has reversed course on the federal government's response to climate change, rescinding numerous environmental protections implemented by the Obama administration.

Trump, who has famously described scientific evidence of climate change as a hoax perpetrated by China, framed the March 28 order as actions intended to promote U.S. energy independence and economic growth.

Key among the policies targeted were Obama's climate action plan, clean power plan and restrictions on the fossil fuel industry.

Trump ordered every agency in his administration to review and report on any actions it could take to remove policies and regulations that "potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources, with particular attention to oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy resources." The order specifically defines the word "burden" to mean any regulation that might "unnecessarily obstruct, delay, curtail, or otherwise impose significant costs on the siting, permitting, production, utilization, transmission, or delivery of energy resources."

Presidential and regulatory actions rescinded include:

  • Obama's 2013 order "Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change."
  • A 2013 presidential memorandum "Power Sector Carbon Pollution Standards."
  • A 2015 memorandum "Mitigating Impacts on Natural Resources from Development and Encouraging Related Private Investment."
  • A 2016 memorandum "Climate Change and National Security."
  • Obama's 2013 report "The President's Climate Action Plan."
  • A 2014 report "Climate Action Plan Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions."
  • A Council on Environmental Quality guidance entitled "Final Guidance for Federal Departments and Agencies on Consideration of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and the Effects of Climate Change in National Environmental Policy Act Reviews."

Trump's executive order calls for the Environmental Protection Agency to immediately review its "Clean Power Plan" and related regulations to determine whether to revise or withdraw them. Applicable rules include:

  • Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units.
  • Standards of Performance for Greenhouse Gas Emissions from New, Modified, and Reconstructed Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units.
  • Federal Plan Requirements for Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Electric Utility Generating Units Constructed on or Before January 8, 2014.
  • Legal Memorandum Accompanying Clean Power Plan for Certain Issues.
  • Estimates of the Social Cost of Carbon, Nitrous Oxide, and Methane for Regulatory Impact Analysis.

The president also disbanded the Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases and pronounced that six of its documents "shall be withdrawn as no longer representative of governmental policy." He also specified that when estimating the monetary impact of changes in greenhouse gas emissions, agencies use cost-benefit formulas developed in 2003, seven years before the U.S. government published its first estimates of the benefits of reducing CO2 emissions.

Trump's order also called for the lifting of a moratorium on using federal land for coal mining, a review of regulations related to emission standards in oil and gas development, and the possible relaxing of rules regulating hydraulic fracturing.

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