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Trump takes action to reverse Obama’s climate change initiatives

Donald Trump moves to erase Barack Obama’s legacy on fighting climate change, The Age 29 Mar 17 Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis, Washington: US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order to scrap Obama-era climate change regulations that his administration says are hindering oil drillers and coal miners.

“My administration is putting an end to the war on coal,” Trump said before signing the decree. “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.”

It is the most significant step yet in obliterating his predecessor’s environmental record and instructing federal regulators to rewrite key rules curbing US carbon emissions. The sweeping executive order also seeks to lift a moratorium on federal coal leasing and remove the requirement that federal officials consider the impact of climate change when making decisions.

The order sends an unmistakable signal that just as former president Barack Obama sought to weave climate considerations into every aspect of the federal government, Mr Trump is hoping to rip that approach out by its roots…..

Some of the measures could take years to implement and are unlikely to alter broader economic trends that are shifting the nation’s electricity mix from coal-fired generation to natural gas and renewables. The order is silent on whether the United States should withdraw from the 2015 Paris climate agreement, under which it has pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions between 26 and 28 per cent by 2025 compared to 2005 levels, because the administration remains divided on that question.

Some of the measures could take years to implement and are unlikely to alter broader economic trends that are shifting the nation’s electricity mix from coal-fired generation to natural gas and renewables. The order is silent on whether the United States should withdraw from the 2015 Paris climate agreement, under which it has pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions between 26 and 28 per cent by 2025 compared to 2005 levels, because the administration remains divided on that question.

The order comes after several moves by Mr Trump to roll back Obama-era restrictions on mining, drilling and coal and gas-burning operations. In his first two months as President, Mr Trump has nullified a regulation barring surface-mining companies from polluting waterways and set aside a new accounting system that would have compelled coal companies and other energy firms to pay more in federal royalties.

The administration also has announced it will reconsider stricter fuel-efficiency standards for cars and light trucks and has approved two major oil pipelines, Dakota Access and Keystone XL, that Mr Obama had halted.

Accelerating fossil-fuel production on federal lands and sidelining climate considerations could lead to higher emissions of the greenhouse gases driving climate change and complicate a global effort to curb the world’s carbon output. But Mr Trump has repeatedly questioned whether climate change is underway and emphasised that he is determined to deliver for the voters in coal country who helped him win the Oval Office……

Rewriting emissions limits

The centrepiece of the new presidential directive, telling the Environmental Protection Agency to begin rewriting the 2015 regulation that limits greenhouse-gas emissions from existing power plants, will trigger a laborious rule-making process and a possible legal fight.

The agency must first get permission from the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, where the rule is tied up in litigation, to revisit the matter. Then, agency officials will have to justify reaching the opposite conclusion of the Obama EPA, which argued it was technically feasible and legally warranted to reduce carbon pollution by about one-third by 2030, compared with 2005 levels.

“So, for the president, even if he would like to revoke the Clean Power Plan, he doesn’t have legal authority to do that,” said Jeffrey Holmstead, a partner at the Bracewell law firm who opposes the Obama-era rule. Mr Holmstead, who headed the EPA’s air and radiation office under George W. Bush, said he thinks the agency can justify reversing the regulation. But “they have to justify why they have changed,” he added……http://www.theage.com.au/world/donald-trump-moves-to-erase-barack-obamas-legacy-on-fighting-climate-change-20170328-gv8kru.html

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March 29, 2017 - Posted by | climate change, USA

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