Economy, Regs, & Taxes

Trump's Executive Order Is an Energy Boost

Undoing the Clean Power Plan is a great move.

Paul Albaugh · Apr. 4, 2017

President Donald Trump recently fulfilled another campaign promise when he signed an Executive Order repealing Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan. This EO is a win for America’s energy sector and is another step in the right direction to reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources. Trump’s EO will also result in more jobs for the coal industry and is a good start in tackling government regulations that harm America’s economy.

Some conservative critics aren’t completely happy with Trump’s EO, claiming he didn’t go far enough. For example, the EO doesn’t remove the United States from the Paris Agreement concerning climate, and it doesn’t remove the EPA’s endangerment finding that greenhouse gases threaten human health and welfare.

While these two facets of Obama’s Clean Power Plan should be undone, Trump was smart in not taking them on just yet. The Paris Agreement on climate is non-binding and the EPA’s endangerment finding was given legal justification by the courts. Trump surely didn’t want to get bogged down with another court battle, so he left it alone — at least for now.

As for the Paris Agreement, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt suggested in his remarks last week that the U.S. will ignore the sections that seek to limit carbon output by wealthier nations. Pruitt noted, “The free-market-driven fracking boom and clean coal technologies have put the U.S. at the forefront of reducing its carbon output. The U.S. didn’t need the job-killing Paris deal to cut carbon emissions; it did it all by itself, without the aid or interference of capitalism-loathing climate change bureaucrats.”

Democrats and ecofascists are of course furious over Trump’s EO, essentially claiming that humans will suffer and die as a result. (Are we missing something? Some of those eco-nuts worry about overpopulation…) This despite the fact that the previous administration’s own Department of Energy acknowledged that the Clean Power Plan would have “no discernible impact in global carbon dioxide emissions for the next three decades.”

But Obama’s plan did have an impact on jobs, specifically the coal industry. That plan was a regulatory power grab with the intent of preventing temperatures from rising a paltry 0.01 degrees Celsius. Trump’s EO changes the climate of government regulation on the coal industry.

In fact, the day after Trump’s order, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke signed an order allowing coal mining leases on federal lands. This is great news for the coal mining industry, as federal land accounts for 40% of the nation’s coal production and about one-third of its reserves. On this policy change, Zinke commented, “Rather than doing the social cost of carbon, you have to look at the social cost of not having a job too. … All of us want clean air and clean water. And we’re going to make sure we ensure that.”

Coal miners are certainly glad to see Trump follow through on what he said he would do. He said he would reverse the regulations that were harming the energy sector and that coal miners would be put back to work. The energy sector needed a boost and Trump delivered on his promise to do so. However, the impact that coal miners suffered during the Obama years may not end completely.

Over the years, fracking and natural gas production have probably impacted the coal industry more than the regulations on coal did. The technological innovations with fracking and natural gas production have allowed the energy sector to produce reliable sources of energy with minimal impact on the environment. Of the sources of energy, coal is still the dirtiest.

In the end, Trump’s decision to end the previous administration’s so-called Clean Power Plan will help to re-energize our economy. With the free market open for business under this administration, we look forward to a new energy revolution.

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