President Donald Trump has signed a sweeping executive order Tuesday at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which officials said looks to strip-down the federal government’s enforcement of climate regulations by prioritising American jobs over addressing climate change.
The US leader vowed to put an end to the “war on coal” and “job-killing regulations”.
The order shelves more than half-a-dozen of former President Barack Obama’s policies – including the Clean Power Plan which reduces greenhouse gas emissions in power plants which are coal-fired.
Donald Trump, who in the past has labelled climate change a “hoax” and invented by the Chinese, had regularly excoriated his predecessor’s environmental policies as an attack on workers and the country’s struggling coal industry.
The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2012
Business groups have lauded the Trump administration’s move, but environmental campaigners have scolded it.
Outside the White House, hundreds of protests amassed to express their condemnation of Trump’s executive order.
Environmental activists, including former Vice President Al Gore, decried Trump’s executive order and other groups are vowing to combat the agenda.
— Al Gore (@algore) March 28, 2017
However, President Trump said, “That is what this is all about: bringing back our jobs, bringing back our dreams and making America wealthy again.”
Nevertheless, the executive order is likely to be subject to extensive court battles. One potential challenge could focus on the fact that these reversals will encourage the release of chemicals that harm human health, something the Clean Air Act prevents. (Carbon dioxide has been included in the list of harmful pollutants since 2009).
President Trump takes a very different approach to the environment from Mr Obama. The former president argued that climate change was “real and cannot be ignored”.
Among the initiatives now dismantled is the Clean Power Plan, which obligated states to reduce carbon emissions, to meet US commitments under the Paris accord.
He recently appointed climate change sceptic Scott Pruitt as the new head of the EPA.