US President Donald Trump today signed an executive order to nullify his predecessor Barack Obama’s climate change efforts, raising questions over America’s leadership in the international campaign against global warming.
Trump signed the order at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), keeping his campaign promise to support the coal industry.
Trump said the order will “eliminate federal overreach” and “start a new era of production and job creation”.
“With today’s executive action, I am taking historic steps to lift the restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion and to cancel job-killing regulations,” Trump said after signing the order.
“My action today is the latest in the series of steps to create American jobs and to grow American wealth. We’re ending the theft of American prosperity and rebuilding our beloved country,” Trump said.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Trump strongly believed that protecting environment and “promoting our economy are not mutually exclusive goals”.
“This executive order will help to ensure that we have clean air and clean water without sacrificing economic growth and job creation,” he said.
The order directs all agencies to conduct a review of all regulations, rules, policies and guidance documents that put up roadblocks to domestic energy production.
The order directs the EPA to take several actions to reflect the President’s environmental and economic goals, including a review of the new performance standards for coal- fired and natural gas-fired plants that amount to a de facto ban on new coal plant production in the US.
In his address, Trump said his measures would start a new energy revolution.
“We are going to start a new energy revolution, one that celebrates American production on American soil. We want to make our goods here, instead of shipping them in from other countries. All over the world, they ship in, ship in, take the Americans’ money, take the money, go home, take our jobs, take our companies, no longer folks, no longer,” he said.
“We believe in those really magnificent words, made in the US. We will unlock job producing natural gas, oil and shale energy. We will produce American coal to power American industry. We will transport American energy through American pipelines made with American steel, made with American steel, can you believe somebody would actually say that?” he said.
The opposition Democratic party and environmental groups, however, slammed Trump for his latest move on energy and climate change.
“We risk throwing away decades of hard work growing the clean energy economy and connecting our nation’s workers to the jobs of the future with this partisan and misguided action,” said Indian-American Congressman Ami Bera, who is a Ranking Member of the Space Subcommittee of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.
“Putting America first means continuing our role as a global leader in reducing carbon emissions. Our work over the last decade to reduce carbon emissions put America first – and this irresponsible executive order throws into uncertainty how we prepare for and tackle the very real consequences of climate change,” Bera said.
The order represents a clear difference between how Trump and former President Obama view the role the US plays in combating climate change, and dramatically alters the government’s approach to rising sea levels and temperatures — two impacts of climate change, the CNN said.
Outside the White House, a few hundred protesters gathered to vent their displeasure at the executive order.
During the campaign, Trump had vowed to pull the US out of the Paris climate deal agreed in December 2015.
Among the initiatives now rescinded is the Clean Power Plan, which required states to slash carbon emissions to meet US commitments under the Paris accord.
Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said Trump and Congressional Republicans’ contempt for clean air, clean water, and the US’ clean energy future endangers the health of the country’s children and the strength of the economy.
“The Administration’s spiteful assault on the Clean Power Plan will not bring back jobs to coal country, it will only poison our air and undermine America’s ability to win the good-paying jobs of the future,” she said.
However, Congressional Western Caucus praised Trump for his executive order.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said Trump’s executive order will help America’s energy workers and reverse much of the damage done.
“In particular, I hope that this action will result in full repeal of the Clean Power Plan, which ravaged coal country and was temporarily blocked by the Supreme Court last year. We are committed to repealing regulations that hurt jobs and drive up the cost of energy,” he said.