Trump Signs Executive Order Dismantling Federal Climate Policies

President Trump at the signing of his executive order on energy independence March 28, 2017.

President Trump at the signing of his executive order on energy independence March 28, 2017. Carlos Barria/Reuters

President Donald Trump has signed a sweeping executive order reversing several major Obama-era environmental and climate change policies, contending that the move will spur increased domestic production of coal, oil, nuclear energy, and natural gas.

The Trump administration said the ultimate aim of the new order, signed Tuesday at the headquarters of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is to advance domestic “energy independence” and restore thousands of coal industry jobs. In a recent interview on ABC News, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt said it would help the U.S. be “both pro-jobs and pro-environment.”

Policies on the chopping block include the Clean Power Plan, a coal-leasing moratorium on public lands, and rules relating to the social cost of carbon emissions, among many others. The executive order also directs federal agencies to review rules and policies “that serve as obstacles or impediments to domestic energy production,” a White House source told E&E News.

Trump’s order does not address the United States’ involvement in the Paris Agreement, the international accord signed in 2015 aimed at reducing global CO2 emissions. Nor does it reverse the EPA’s greenhouse gas endangerment finding, which allowed the Obama administration to regulate CO2 under the Clean Air Act.

“My administration is putting an end to the war on coal,” Trump said at the signing event. “I am taking historic steps to lift the restrictions on American energy to reverse government intrusions and to cancel job killing regulations.”

Energy analysts argue the order will do little to change domestic energy production trends or save the coal industry, which has been in decline for decades. Much of the natural gas and oil Americans consume is already produced in the U.S. With renewable energy now rivaling fossil fuels in cost, it will be hard to stop the rapid growth of wind and solar electricity across the U.S., analysts say.