WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump signed his much anticipated executive order Tuesday rolling back Obama-era regulations on climate change, promising a new era for the U.S. energy industry.
“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,” Trump said during a speech at the Environmental Protection Agency’s headquarters in Washington. “We will create so many energy job that will lead to incredible prosperity all throughout our country.”
Standing on stage with a group of coal miners, as well as members of his Cabinet, Trump evoked the spirit of his 2016 presidential campaign, calling the miners “tough guys” and explaining how they had “told me about the struggle.”
The action immediately drew celebrations among Republicans, who have long challenged former President Barack Obama’s climate policies as an unneccesary overreach to a problem still being understood.
“Former-President Obama circumvented Congress to impose a radical environmental agenda, at a great cost to hardworking American families,” said Rep. Bill Flores, R-Waco. “Abundant, affordable, safe and efficient energy is one of the key building blocks for a vibrant and healthy economy.”
Through a series of executive orders and memoranda, Trump said he would order a review of Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which was expected to shutter a large share of the nation’s coal power plants, as well as rules forcing oil and gas companies to seek out and fix methane leaks at drilling sites.
The administration also will also review guidance issued last year by Obama, who instructed federal agencies to consider the impact on climate change when writing policies, as well global warming’s social effects, and its social effects, from economic disruption to higher public health costs.
Trump’s actions, for now, will not go so far as to pull the United States from the Paris climate accord, in which close to 200 countries have agreed to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. That decision, a White House official said Monday night, “is still under discussion.”
The measures, however, run counter to the overwhelming scientific consensus that the burning fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal is accelerating climate change with potentially disastrous social, economic and environmental effects as seas rise, violent storms become more frequent and habitats that help support human populations vanish.
Many corporations are considering the potential impact of climate change on their business while more investors are asking companies to consider and account for the impact of climate change on future earnings as they plan ahead.
Even some of the world’s biggest oil companies acknowledge that they must adapt to a low-carbon world. At a recent energy conference in Houston, the chief executives of Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, BP and the Norwegian oil company Statoil — all with a significant presence in Houston — agreed that the industry needed to find ways to produce energy with fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
“This is an all-out assault on the protections we need to avert climate catastrophe,” Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement. “It’s a senseless betrayal of our national interest.”
The administration’s moves were widely anticipated, but they nonetheless underscore that the fossil fuel industry in Texas and across the United States will enjoy more favorable treatment under the new administration.