WASHINGTON (CN) – President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday that upends a host of climate regulations in the name of energy independence and job creation.
Trump signed the order at the headquarters of the Environmental Protection Agency Tuesday afternoon with the agency’s new administrator — and avowed climate change skeptic — Scott Pruitt, at his side.
Several regulations put in place by the Obama administration will fall under the axe.
The moratorium on coal mining on U.S. federal lands will be lifted and requirements forcing federal agencies to consider the impact of climate change when making decisions will also be removed.
The former president’s Clean Power Plan will be up for dismantling as well. Under the new order, federal agencies will be instructed to identify rules or polices that they believe serve as obstacles to national energy independence.
During an interview with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday, Pruitt offered a preview of the executive order.
“The president is keeping his promise to the American people this week with respect to the executive order coming down on Tuesday — the energy independence executive order.”
“We need a pro-growth and pro-environment approach for how we do regulations in this country,” Pruitt said. “For too long, we have accepted a narrative that if you’re pro-growth, pro-jobs, you’re anti-environment. That’s not where we have been as a country.”
Instead, Pruitt stressed that “we have made tremendous progress on our environment” but added that executive orders of the past administration were merely an effort to kill jobs through the Clean Power Plan.
With a stroke of his pen, President Trump will also overturn a 2013 executive order signed by former President Obama that was intended to prepare the U.S. for the impacts of climate change.
The new guidance appears to sidestep any correlation between climate change and the threat in poses to national security.
A senior White House official who briefed reporters on the executive order Monday night said once the new order is signed, there would be a strengthening of national energy security — a suggestion that is completely counter to statements made by the previous administration.
Now approaching its 70th day in power, the Trump administration has been mum on the impact of rising sea levels and temperatures around the world, and their relation to drought, food scarcity and other issues.
One thing the order does not clarify is the administration’s stance on U.S. involvement in the 2015 Paris climate agreement. Former Vice President Al Gore signaled to reporters in mid-March that there was a “realistic chance” Trump would keep the U.S. engaged in the talks. The agreement pledges to cut carbon emissions by almost 30 percent by 2025 in comparison to 2005 emissions levels.
Tuesday’s order has caused an uproar among environmentalists and various conservation organizations.
The World Resources Institute, a non-profit think tank dedicated to the study of energy sustainability, slammed the order in a statement Monday. The institute’s president, Dr. Andrew Steer, said that Trump was obliterating the environmental protection gains made in the last eight years.
“In taking a sledgehammer to U.S. climate action, the administration will push the country backward, making it harder and more expensive to reduce emissions,” Steer said.
Meanwhile, California Gov. Jerry Brown and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a joint statement Tuesday reaffirming their states’ commitments to exceed the targets of the Clean Power Plan.
“Together, California and New York represent approximately 60 million people – nearly 1 in 5 Americans – and 20 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product,” the governors said. “With or without Washington, we will work with our partners throughout the world to aggressively fight climate change and protect our future.”
But others were understandably pleased by Trump making good on his campaign pledge to boost fossil fuel production in the U.S.
Jack Gerard, CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, said in a statement that the order as “common sense” and necessary to “advance the U.S. energy renaissance.”
Gerard has a large stake in the future of such a movement, API has more than 9.8 million jobs on its rolls and says its organization services eight percent of the entire U.S. economy’s natural oil and gas needs.
API’s excitement was not met by Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The executive order bears something more ominous for the future, Suh said in a statement on Monday.
“This is an all-out assault on the protections we need to avert climate catastrophe. It’s a senseless betrayal of our national interests. And it’s a short-sighted attempt to undermine American clean energy leadership,” she said.
Accusing the new administration of sacrificing the future for fossil fuel profits, Suh added that the new order clawed back much of the progress made in clean energy industry advancements, which includes clean job creation.
In 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics began collecting data for green jobs in an effort to measure progress in related technologies. In March 2013, budget cuts nixed a program, Green Careers, which tracked the information.
The last bureau estimates in 2013 set the number at roughly 3.1 million green or clean jobs created that year. Reports by the Environmental and Energy Study Institute contend that clean job openings increasing at a rate of 13 percent from 2013 to 2014 alone and were expected to only grow by 1 million jobs in the first quarter of 2015.
In an email Tuesday, Chris Warren, vice president of communications for the Institute of Energy Research, a lobbying firm, said green job creation is complicated and mired in a need for subsidies, mandates and regulations to stay afloat.
“The green energy industry can’t have it both ways. It’s time they compete on a level playing field. At the end of the day, wind and solar are expensive and intermittent resources that simply can’t provide reliable electricity like coal, natural gas and nuclear power can,” Warren said.
Warren admitted that Trump’s latest executive order wouldn’t “solve the problem overnight,” but believes it’s a way of finally unwinding what he described as the Obama administration’s punitive climate agenda.
“The cost of energy is embedded in every aspect of our economy, so when prices go up it takes a serious toll on the economy. That means fewer jobs and higher costs for products across the board,” Warren said. “By reversing these policies, the Trump administration can help keep energy costs low while creating jobs in the coal industry and throughout the economy.”