President Trump Issues Executive Order Targeting Obama Administration?s Environmental Policies

On March 28, 2017 President Trump issued an Executive Order – “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth” – which aims to repeal or weaken several of the Obama administration’s environmental initiatives. Most notably, the Order targets the Clean Power Plan (CPP) put into place by President Obama’s administration in 2015. The CPP aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from electrical power generation by 32 percent within twenty-five years relative to 2005 levels by reducing emissions from coal-burning power plants, increasing renewable energy use, and energy conservation efforts. The Executive Order directs the EPA and other federal agencies to begin reviewing certain environmental regulations for repeal or revision. It is currently unclear how the EPA will begin the process of repealing the CPP. Some stakeholders have recommended that the EPA pursue more limited carbon dioxide standards for existing power plants. Others are arguing that the EPA might declare that Section 112 of the Clean Air Act prohibits it from regulating carbon dioxide emissions under this rule. The Order also targets other environmental policies, such as the cost-benefit analysis for climate change policies developed during the Obama administration. Federal agencies will now use 2003 White House Office of Management Budget guidance in evaluating the costs and benefits of climate and environmental policy. The Order also takes a number of other actions, including:
  • Rescinding several of President Obama's executive orders and memorandums on climate change;
  • Lifting a moratorium on federal coal leasing;
  • Rescinding the White House Council on Environmental Quality guidance on climate change;
  • Directing the Bureau of Land Management to review regulations on unconventional oil and gas leasing;
  • Directing the Bureau of Land Management to review venting and flaring regulations on oil and gas operators on federal lands; and
  • Directing the Bureau of Land Management to review new National Park Service and Fish and Wildlife Service regulations on oil and gas operations.
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