President Trump is scheduled to sign the latest in a series of executive orders meant to roll back Obama Era rules. Today’s order, called the Energy Independence Executive Order, takes aim at President Obama’s Clean Power Plan which limits emissions from power plants. Reversal of the policies will jeopardize the US participation in the 2016 Paris Agreement which is a global partnership to reduce greenhouse gasses – a primary cause of climate change.
According to 2014 data from the EPA, 30% of carbon emissions in the US come from power production. Coal burning, steam-powered plants are by far the dirtiest with natural gas burning power plants posing the second highest emissions. The Obama initiative set to reduce emissions by requiring plants with the higher emission levels to introduce carbon capture systems.
Scott Pruitt, Trump’s EPA director, then AG of Oklahoma led a coalition of Republican-led states that filed a lawsuit last year aimed at stopping the Obama emissions rules. That suit prompted a stay by the Supreme Court pending further study. All in all, Pruitt was responsible for 13 lawsuits against the EPA before being named to the top post this year.
Opponents of the Clean Power Plan claim that evidence does not support climate change caused by carbon emissions. They also attribute the steady loss of fossil fuel jobs to the tougher standards.
Two hurdles the new policy needs to clear are precedent and science.
In a 2007 ruling in Massachusetts v EPA the courts ruled that greenhouse gas emissions were pollution and a contributing factor to climate change. The decision directed the EPA to “take action.”
Pete Fontaine, a veteran environmental lawyer who previously worked with the EPA spoke to Huffington Post. During the interview, he explained,
“In order to make policy change, it’s going to need to be supported by the science, and that’s where I think ultimately the effort is going to founder.”
“Facts will not be changed by people expressing beliefs in an alternative set of facts,” Fontaine said. “The science is well settled on climate change, and that science is based on literally more than a century of scientific inquiry and the laws of physics, which are going to govern here no matter what people say is contrary to their beliefs.”
A recent article by Forbes described the ramifications of the repeal,
The Trump administration has prioritized repealing the Clean Power Plan (CPP), a set of rules by the U.S. EPA aimed at limiting pollution from power plants. New analysis shows that repealing the rule would cost the U.S. economy hundreds of billions of dollars, add more than a billion tons of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere and cause more than 100,000 premature deaths due to inhaled particulate pollution.