| WASHINGTON, March 28
WASHINGTON, March 28 U.S. President Donald Trump
will sign an executive order on Tuesday to undo a slew of
Obama-era climate change regulations, a move meant to bolster
domestic energy production and create jobs, but
environmentalists say the order is dangerous and vow to
challenge it in court.
The decree's main target is former President Barack Obama's
Clean Power Plan, requiring states to slash carbon emissions
from power plants - a critical element in helping the United
States meet its commitments to a global climate change accord
reached by nearly 200 countries in Paris in December 2015.
The order will also rescind a ban on coal leasing on federal
lands, reverse rules to curb methane emissions from oil and gas
production, and reduce the weight of climate change in federal
assessments of new regulations.
Trump has long telegraphed the moves, and claimed that
undoing green regulation will trigger a new boom in oil, gas,
and coal production and create thousands of jobs, all without
harming U.S. air and water quality.
"We're going to go in a different direction," a senior White
House official told reporters ahead of Tuesday's order. "The
previous administration devalued workers with their policies. We
can protect the environment while providing people with work."
Energy analysts and executives have questioned whether the
moves will have a big effect on their industries, and
environmentalists have called them reckless.
"I cannot tell you how many jobs the executive order is
going to create but I can tell you that it provides confidence
in this administration’s commitment to the coal industry,"
Kentucky Coal Association president Tyler White told Reuters.
Trump will sign the order at the Environmental Protection
Agency with Administrator Scott Pruitt, Interior Secretary Ryan
Zinke and Energy Secretary Rick Perry on Tuesday afternoon.
The wide-ranging order is the boldest yet in Trump’s broader
push to cut environmental regulation to revive the drilling and
mining industries, a promise he made repeatedly during the
'ASSAULT ON AMERICAN VALUES'
Environmental groups hurled scorn on Trump's order.
"These actions are an assault on American values and they
endanger the health, safety and prosperity of every American,"
said billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer, the head of
activist group NextGen Climate.
Green group Earthjustice was one of many organizations that
said it will fight the order both in and out of court. “This
order ignores the law and scientific reality," said its
president, Trip Van Noppen.
An overwhelming majority of scientists believe that human
use of oil and coal for energy is a main driver of climate
change, causing a damaging rise in sea levels, droughts, and
more frequent violent storms.
Trump and several members of his administration, however,
have doubts about climate change, and Trump promised during his
campaign to pull the United States out of the Paris climate
accord, arguing it would hurt U.S. business.
Since being elected Trump has been mum on the Paris deal and
the executive order does not address it.
Christiana Figueres, former executive secretary of the
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change who helped
broker the Paris accord, lamented Trump's order.
"The action by the U.S. to undo important domestic carbon
reduction regulation in the face of the enormous momentum
building globally toward a low carbon economy risks putting the
country on a back-foot at a time when most Americans are looking
to lead," she said in a statement.
"Trying to make fossil fuels remain competitive in the face
of a booming clean renewable power sector, with the clean air
and plentiful jobs it continues to generate, is going against
the flow of economics," she said.
The order will direct the EPA to start a formal "review"
process to undo the Clean Power Plan, which was introduced by
Obama in 2014 but was never implemented in part because of legal
challenges brought by Republican-controlled states.
The Clean Power Plan required states to collectively cut
carbon emissions from power plants by 32 percent below 2005
levels by 2030.
Trump’s order lifts the Interior Department's Bureau of Land
Management's temporary ban on coal leasing on federal property
put in place by Obama in 2016 as part of a review to study the
program's impact on climate change and ensure royalty revenues
were fair to taxpayers.
It also asks federal agencies to discount the cost of carbon
in policy decisions and the weight of climate change
considerations in infrastructure permitting, and reverses rules
limiting methane leakage from oil and gas facilities.
(Writing by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Mary Milliken and