Trump signs executive order undoing Obama climate policies

Ahead of President Trump's executive order that will begin rolling back power plant emission rules, Gov. Matt Bevin predicted that the move will bring back jobs to Kentucky's coal fields.

As part of the rollback order, Trump will initiate a review of the Clean Power Plan, which restricts greenhouse gas emissions at coal-fired power plants.

While Republicans have blamed Obama-era environmental regulations for the loss of coal jobs, federal data shows that USA mines have been shedding jobs for decades under presidents from both parties because of automation and competition from natural gas and because of solar panels and wind turbines, which now can produce emissions-free electricity cheaper than burning coal. "You're missing the train", he said.

Trump also reversed Obama's more stringent rules on methane leakage from oil and gas facilities. "You're going back to work".

Experts also questioned Trump's statement that the order will eventually help boost economic growth and job creation.

During his time in office, Obama unveiled numerous executive orders and memoranda created to curb greenhouse gas emissions and carbon pollution, especially from coal and other energy industries. It would have required Pennsylvania by 2030 to reduce emissions almost 35 percent compared to 2005 levels.

In 2008 there were 88,000 coal miners in the United States, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

The executive order is seen as the first step in reversing the legislation, implementation of which had been stayed by the Supreme Court in February 2016, pending resolution of legal challenges now before the DC Circuit court. The high-profile case is being considered by a federal appeals court.

In a statement, Baker administration officials said the state would continue to pursue aggressive measures to reduce emissions and make the state less vulnerable to climate change.

Some analysts have expressed concern this could enable Beijing - the world's leading emitter of greenhouse gases - to water down its own commitments, but others say it is more likely China will step into a leading role in the vacuum left by Washington.

Furthermore, Trump's order rescinds Obama's executive order that encouraged agencies to prepare for changes in Earth's climate.

Christian Downie, senior climate researcher at the University of New South Wales, says any effort to save the coal industry is doomed.

"It is the last shot for the miners,"Trump said in August, referencing the November election".

President Trump takes a very different approach to the environment from Mr Obama.

Flanked by coal miners invited to attend the signing, the president hailed the order as "the start of a new era" in American energy production that he said would put an end to the "war on coal". "My administration is putting an end to the war on coal".

It will "allow our companies and our workers to thrive, compete, and succeed on a level playing field for the first time in a long time", he said. But Trump said the effort would spark "a new energy revolution" and lead to "unbelievable" American prosperity.

According to an Energy Department analysis released in January, coal mining now accounts for fewer than 75,000 U.S. jobs - those in wind, solar and biofuels - now accounts for more than 650,000 USA jobs. But it would be more hard to meet those goals.

"This order ignores the law and scientific reality", said its president, Trip Van Noppen. The number of coal jobs have been in decline prior to the Clean Power Plan, due to competition from cheap natural gas and the increase of automation.

  • Joanne Flowers