US President, Donald Trump signed an executive order yesterday to undo a slew of Obama-era climate-change regulations that his administration says is hobbling oil drillers and coal miners, a move environmental groups have vowed to take to court.
The decree’s main target is former President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, requiring states to slash carbon emissions from power plants – a critical element in helping the US meet its commitments to a global climate-change accord reach-ed by nearly 200 countries in Paris in 2015.
The so-called “Energy Independence” order will reverse a ban on coal leasing on federal lands, undo rules to curb methane emissions from oil and gas production and reduce the weight of climate change and carbon emissions in policy and infrastructure permitting decisions.
“We’re going to go in a different direction,” a senior White House official said ahead of yesterday’s order. “The previous administration devalued workers with their policies. We can protect the environment while providing people with work.”
The wide-ranging order is the boldest yet in Trump’s broader push to cut environmental regulation to revive the drilling and mining industries, a promise he made repeatedly during the presidential campaign.
But energy analysts and executives have questioned whether the moves will have a big effect on their industries and environmentalists have called them reckless.
“I cannot tell you how many jobs the executive order is going to create but I can tell you that it provides confidence in this administration’s commitment to the coal industry,” said Kentucky Coal Association president Tyler White.
Environmental groups have hurled scorn on Trump’s order, arguing it is dangerous and goes against the global trend towards cleaner energy technologies.
“These actions are an assault on US values and they endanger the health, safety and prosperity of every American,” said billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer, the head of activist group NextGen Climate.
Green group Earthjustice was one of many organisations that said it would fight the order both in and out of court. “This order ignores the law and scientific reality,” said its president, Trip van Noppen.
An overwhelming majority of scientists believe the use of oil and coal for energy is a main driver of climate change.
Trump and several members of his administration, however, have doubts about climate change, and Trump promised during his campaign to pull the US out of the Paris accord.