March 28, 2017

The Regulation Climate Is Changing

Trump begins undoing Obama’s Clean Power Plan.

Over Barack Obama’s eight years, and particularly his last four, he governed by executive order. It wasn’t so much the number of them that was galling, but the scope. Yet what can be done with a phone and pen can be undone with the same. Cue Donald Trump, with numerous executive orders already undoing some of the damage done by Obama.

One such order issued today take’s aim at Obama’s climate policies. In 2015, Obama introduced the Clean Power Plan, which had little to do with climate and everything to do with social justice and government power. It was a clean power grab, all to prevent warming of 0.01 degrees Celsius. It was also part of Obama’s war on coal, and it served to fulfill one of his inadvertent campaign promises: “Under my plan … electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.” Fortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court put a stay on Obama’s plan.

Better still, Trump is beginning to reverse that plan, though the process could take years. He has yet to address Obama’s Paris climate treaty, but this order signals that’s possible. The Washington Times sums it up: “The Clean Power Plan, the first set of national limits on greenhouse gas pollution from power plants, is crucial to the U.S. meeting President Obama’s [Paris] pledge to cut emissions by at least 26 percent by 2025. While Mr. Trump has yet to formally pull out of the Paris deal — a nonbinding agreement with no enforcement mechanisms other than public shaming — his move Tuesday essentially guarantees the U.S. won’t meet the ambitious target.”

NPR, which is appalled by Trump’s changes, explains another facet: “The ‘social cost of carbon’ is another Obama-era policy that directed government agencies to factor in the effects of climate change on their rule-making. It essentially put a price tag on carbon emissions and told agencies to factor that price tag in when making a regulation. The current cost is $36 per metric ton. Trump is expected to try to neuter the policy by directing the EPA to lower that cost to the point where it won’t have much weight in policy-making.”

Along with lifting the burden from coal, Trump has already promised to revisit emissions standards and approved both the Dakota and Keystone pipelines. All signs point to energy policies that will help America lead the world.

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