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Executive order rolls back Clean Power Plan
March 28, 2017

President Trump begn to follow through on his promises to roll back Obama era environmental regulations when he signed an executive order designed to undo the Clean Power Plan that was aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

President Trump signed the order directing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to start the legal process of withdrawing and rewriting the Clean Power Plan on March 28.

The order begins the long process of unwinding the Clean Power Plan by requiring EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to review the program, which cuts carbon emissions from existing power plants 32 percent by 2030. It also orders the Department of Justice to ask the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to freeze the legal challenge against the Clean Power Plan, effectively ending the government's defense of the carbon program.

The order also takes aim at the lifting the a short-term ban on new coal mining on public lands.

“We’re ending the theft of American prosperity and reviving our beloved economy,” Trump said. “The miners told me about the attacks on their jobs. I made them this promise. We will put our miners back to work.”

However, one of the coal industry’s most influential players cautioned the president to not promise too much.

Robert Murray, founder and chief executive of Murray Energy, the largest privately held coal mining company in the United States, was recently interviewed by The Guardian newspaper about Trump’s promises to revive the coal industry. In 2008, the coal industry employed 127,745 people. In 2015 there were 98,050 people employed in the industry according to the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration. Trump has promised to bring many of those jobs back but Murray warned him that it will not be easy.

“I suggested that he temper his expectations. Those are my exact words,” said Murray. “He can’t bring them (jobs) back.”

The Clean Power Plan, President Obama’s signature climate change plan, was designed to cut the power sector’s carbon emissions by 32 percent by 2030 to meet the goals set forth by the Paris Climate Agreement. Murray has said the Clean Power Plan is responsible for the closure of dozens of coal-fired power plants and filed a lawsuit against the plan in 2015 that is now supported by more than 24 states.

Environmental groups have challenged a repeal as an assault on climate action and will make it impossible for the United States to meet the commitment it made to the 2015 Paris Agreement.

“We’ve made tremendous progress on our environment, and we can be both pro-jobs and pro-environment, and the executive order’s going to address the [past] administration’s effort to kill jobs across the country through the Clean Power Plan,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said.

Pruitt alled the 2015 Paris Agreement negotiations on climate change a “bad deal” since major polluters China and India do not have to take steps to reduce pollution until 2030. Instead, he said the United States should act within the framework of the Clean Air Act.n 

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