Trump Signs EO on Clean Power Plan

March 29, 2017

On March 28, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) directing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to review the Clean Power Plan and other greenhouse gas regulations for the power sector, a first step in rolling back the Obama-era climate rules.

Signing it at the EPA headquarters, the administration is pitching the EO primarily as a move to increase the nation’s energy independence, with the added effect of increasing jobs in affected sectors and related industries. Trump said the EO fulfills a promise he made to coal miners during his presidential campaign.

Specifically, the most significant piece of the EO instructs the EPA to formally consider repealing the Clean Power Plan. It was the central piece of former President Barack Obama’s second-term climate agenda, setting a 32 percent cut in the power sector’s carbon dioxide emissions by 2030.

The EO directs each executive department and agency in the federal government to identify regulations, rules, policies, and guidance documents that slow or stop domestic energy production, and launches a 170-day process to develop plans from each agency going forward.

Federal regulators are also asked under the EO to consider repealing the EPA’s carbon limits for newly built power plants and methane emissions standards for oil and natural gas drilling from the EPA and the Interior Department.

It also has some immediate effects. The order stops Interior’s moratorium on new coal-mining leases on federal land, something Obama instituted to study how to charge coal companies for the climate impacts of the fuel they mine on federal property.

It also stops policies asking federal agencies to consider climate change in environmental reviews, a government-wide accounting method for climate change regulations called the “social cost of carbon” and Obama executive orders on climate, like one asking that infrastructure be built to withstand a future climate affected by global warming.

The order does not mention the United Nations Paris climate accord, which a senior White House official said was still being considered.

Finally, implementation of the rules has been held since the Supreme Court put a judicial stay on them last year, and the D.C. Circuit is still reviewing the case. Even if it rules in favor of the rules, they will likely not be put into place and the Department of Justice will likely ask the court to drop the case as it reviews the plan.


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