Today, on March 28, President Trump will head to the offices of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to sign the Energy Independence Executive Order (EO), according to a senior White House official. Above all else, its objective is to direct the EPA to suspend, revise or rescind the Clean Power Plan (CPP), Obama’s signature climate change mitigation measure.
Obama’s Climate Action Plan, a memorandum outlining how America will push back against climate change, will also be “rescinded.”
Speaking to reporters yesterday evening, the official suggested that the Trump administration had learned from the chaos that ensued during the recent travel ban efforts.
During both attempts to restrict the movement of residents of multiple majority Muslim nations in the US, the executive orders were effectively nullified by actions of the courts. This time around, Trump’s team have apparently made sure that no court could overturn this particular EO.
“This order will help keep energy and electricity affordable, reliable, and clean in order to boost economic growth and job creation,” the official said. “We want to look at nuclear, renewables, all of this.”
It will also terminate the National Environmental Policy Act. Referred to as the “environmental Magna Carta”, it required all federal agencies to explain how any of their plans will impact the environment.
Curiously, the official hinted that the administration will acknowledge that the climate is changing, but the CPP is not the way to handle it. “When it comes to climate change, we want to take our course and do it in our own form and fashion,” they said.
The first point seemingly goes against everything the administration has been saying and doing for some time now. In the very recent past, the head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, disagreed with even the basic concept that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas.
Unfortunately, it looks like the specifics of climate change science still eludes the White House. When repeatedly asked about the links between climate change and extreme weather events, including rising sea levels, the official kept saying: “I want to see the studies. Then we’ll talk.”
Most worryingly of all, when it came to whether or not the authors of the EO accept the science of climate change, the official simply said “I haven’t talked to everyone in the White House.” After being pushed as to whether or not the official themself accepted the science, they replied: “That’s not relevant.”
“It’s pretty important if you’re talking about it,” the reporter noted.
The new EO is apparently designed to stop any legal framework impeding energy production, and to encourage America to become “energy independent”. The EPA will “pursue the twin goal” of protecting the environment and the economy.
Trump has also long signaled that he wishes to pull out of the groundbreaking Paris agreement, and the official told journalists last night that the climate pact was still “under discussion.”
Recent studies, however, have shown how the Paris agreement will not only protect the environment and mitigate dangerous climate change through the proliferation of clean energy, but it will also boost the world economy by $19 trillion in the next few decades by adding new jobs.
Even if the Trump administration sticks with the Paris climate pact, retracting the CPP will drastically reduce America’s ability to abide by the agreement. This will ultimately endanger the US environment and its economy.
There is some good news amidst all this bluster and chaos, though. Firstly, the CPP doesn’t have any legal backing at present. Due to legal action by 28 states and plenty more fossil fuel magnates and lobbying groups, the CPP was never ratified and got stuck in the courts.
So this EO is essentially trying to stop something that doesn’t technically exist from ever having a chance to exist, which doesn’t really mean much at all.
Additionally, as revealed by a recent analysis, the backing of renewable energy by both market forces and dozens of American states has meant that emissions have been drastically cut across the country already.
In fact, the US is already 75 percent of the way to achieving the goals of the CPP, a staggering 14 years ahead of schedule. At the current pace of change, it’s set to greatly exceed them by the time 2030 rolls around.
Lastly, even if the CPP is rescinded, the EPA are impelled by the Supreme Court to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. So it looks like Pruitt will have to craft another emissions regulatory measure anyway, lest they wish to break the law.
Overall, though, for those who wish to protect both the environment and the economy, this EO is certainly bad news – but remember that much of it is political sabre-rattling designed to appease a select few wealthy companies and a swath of the voting public.