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August 2017 Issue

Policy Brief: Trump Rolls Back Clean Power Plan, Reviews CAFE Standards

March 29, 2017 •

By Keith Reid

 

As he promised during the campaign, President Trump has essentially backed out of the Obama administration EPA’s Clean Power Plan. The “Energy Independence” executive order signed on March 28 at EPA asks the agency to review and essentially roll back the rule. For details of the rule click HERE.

 

“Today I’m taking bold action on that promise,” Trump said at the signing. “My administration is putting an end to the war on coal. We’re going to have clean coal, really clean coal.”

 

Trump went on to note that the economy, jobs and environmental protection can all coexist if approached in a sensible manner.

 

The Clean Power Plan was seen as a cornerstone of COP21, the latest major carbon-focused climate initiative that former President Obama agreed to without taking part in the formal treaty process. Trump has not indicated that he will withdraw formally from the COP21 commitment, but this action moves significantly in that direction.

 

The Clean Power Plan has been the target of numerous lawsuits from state attorney generals aimed at mitigating the plan’s impact on their state economies, and is currently on hold. This included states that were significant coal producers or that relied heavily on coal-fired power generation. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt was the Oklahoma Attorney General fighting the Clean Power Plan before joining the Trump administration. The lawsuit focus will now largely shift to environmental activists opposed to Trump’s initiative.

 

Trump has also indicated a review of the next phase of Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, as previously speculated in THIS article. The upcoming requirements are aggressive—requiring a fleet average of at least 54.5 MPG by 2025—and many automakers have called for a revision.

 

That also brings into question Phase 2 of the fuel efficiency standards for heavy-duty trucks created through Obama’s Climate Action Plan. Phase 1 was a significant success as solutions relative to aerodynamics and improvements of existing technologies largely met the challenge. Phase 2 looks to be far more challenging and complicated to achieve as covered HERE.

 

Responses from both industry officials and environmental activists were along expected lines. American Petroleum Institute (API) President and CEO Jack Gerard called President Trump’s “Energy Independence” executive order an important step forward in restoring common sense regulations that are needed to advance the U.S. energy renaissance.

 

“Today’s action by President Trump is an important step toward increasing American competitiveness and recognizing that our industry is part of the solution to advancing U.S. economic and national security goals,” said Gerard. “Smart, common sense and science-based guidance and regulations will help our nation’s energy renaissance continue to provide benefits for American consumers, workers and the environment.

 

“We look forward to working with the Trump administration and Congress on forward-looking energy policies that will help ensure the United States continues leading the world in the production and refining of oil and natural gas, and in the reduction of carbon emissions,” Gerard concluded.

 

Rhea Suh, President of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), made the following statements. “This is an all-out assault on the protections we need to avert climate catastrophe. It’s a senseless betrayal of our national interests, and it’s a short-sighted attempt to undermine American clean energy leadership.

 

“Trump is sacrificing our future for fossil fuel profits—and leaving our kids to pay the price. This would do lasting damage to our environment and public lands, threaten our homes and health, hurt our pocketbooks and slow the clean energy progress that has already generated millions of good-paying jobs. We won’t surrender our children’s future to fossil fuel profits without a fight,” Suh explained.

 

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