Trump's energy order not 'a big deal' for climate agreement

President Donald Trump took aim Tuesday at one of President Barack Obama's signature efforts on climate change: rules created to make power plants cleaner.

So to hear about President Trump's executive order Tuesday that rolled back some of the Obama-era policies on coal emissions was disappointing, he said.

Another part of the order starts the process of removing President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan that required states to slash carbon emissions from power plants by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

The action asks several other federal agencies to undo the previous administration's climate change work: It tells the Interior Department to end a moratorium on new coal leasing on federal land, the official said, and the Obama administration's assault on methane emissions - outlined in early 2014 and overseen by Interior and EPA - will be ended, as well.

Trump has called global warming a "hoax", and has repeatedly criticized Obama's efforts as an attack on American workers and the struggling US coal industry.

China invested more than $88 billion in clean energy in 2016, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, down from an all time high of nearly $120 billion in 2015, but still significantly more than the $58.8 billion invested by the U.S. a year ago.

While Republicans have blamed Obama-era environmental regulations for the loss of coal jobs, federal data show that US mines have been losing jobs for decades under presidents from both parties because of automation and competition from natural gas and because solar panels and wind turbines can produce emissions-free electricity cheaper than burning coal.

Laurence Tubbiana, formerly the top French diplomat on climate change and now the CEO of the European Climate Foundation, said in a statement that the order "will propel the economy backwards".

The president and his supporters believe the change will bring back coal-industry jobs, despite a decline over the last few decades under both parties, according to federal data.

Some 85 percent of USA states are on track to meet the emission targets despite the fact the rule has not been implemented, according to Bill Becker, director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies.

Flanked by coal miners as he signed the order, the President said: "My administration is putting an end to the war on coal".

Thomas Stocker, a climate scientist at the University of Bern, Switzerland, said Trump's plan to halt decommissioning of old and polluting coal-fired power stations would hurt the United States in the long run.

The Trump administration's plans drew praise from business groups and condemnation from environmental groups.

That said, Mr Trump's order could make it more hard, though not impossible, for the USA to achieve its carbon reduction goals.

During the campaign, he vowed to pull the United States out of the Paris climate deal agreed in December 2015. "This order ignores the law and scientific reality", said its president, Trip Van Noppen.

In a separate statement, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and California Governor Edmund Brown Jr pledged to exceed targets set by the Clean Power Plan.

"Apart from the EPA's Pruitt, who shares Trump's harsh environmental rhetoric, the heads of other key cabinet positions have more moderate views and are most likely to support growth opportunities for utilities", the Morningstar report said.

However, the overturning of Clean Power Plan will forfeit important health benefits and undermine the longstanding American tradition of energy innovation and clean air progress, said Charles Driscoll, Professor at Syracuse University in NY.

  • Leroy Wright