Donald Trump signs executive order to roll back Barack Obama's climate change policies

Devyani Sultania
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United States President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday to roll back several climate change regulations that were put in place by former president Barack Obama. Trump said that rolling back the Obama-era regulations would put an end to the "war on coal" and "job-killing regulations," due to which oil drillers and coal miners are suffering.

The Energy Independence Executive Order suspends over half a dozen measures that were enacted by Obama while boosting fossil fuels.The executive order directs the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to begin a formal "review" to roll back Obama's Clean Power Plan, under which states were mandated to reduce carbon emissions from power plants and, therefore, help the US fulfil its commitments to the Paris Climate Agreement — global climate change accord reached by almost 200 countries — signed in December 2015.

The order also lifts the ban on coal leasing on federal property that was put in place by Obama in 2016 in order to study the programme's impact on climate change and make sure that royalty revenues were fair to the tax paying public. The order also rolls back rules to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas production and also reduces the weight of climate change and carbon emissions while making policy and infrastructure permitting decisions. During the election campaign, Trump had promised to cut environmental regulation in order to revive the country's drilling and mining industries.

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Business groups have lauded Trump's move to roll back Obama-era policies, but environmentalists have condemned his decision calling it reckless. Energy analysts and executives have also questioned if the move would have a huge effect on their industries. Trump had said during the election campaign that he would pull out of the Paris climate deal since it hurts US business.

"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.

Environmentalists lash out at Trump:

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Some environmental groups have countered Trump's claims that reducing environmental regulation would create jobs by saying that the rules supporting clean energy had done the same. A study by the Department of Energy states that the number of jobs in the US wind power industry increased by 32 percent, while solar jobs by 25 percent in 2016.

Environmental groups have lashed out at Trump's order saying that it is dangerous and also against the broader global initiative toward cleaner energy technologies. Some groups have vowed to take legal action against the Trump administration.

"These actions are an assault on American values and they endanger the health, safety and prosperity of every American. Trump is deliberately destroying programs that create jobs and safeguards that protect our air and water, all for the sake of allowing corporate polluters to profit at our expense," Tom Steyer, the head of activist group NextGen Climate, told the media.

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Christiana Figueres, former executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change who helped broker the Paris accord, also criticised Trump's order. "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," Figueres said.

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