President Donald Trump plans on signing executive orders targeting the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) global warming regulations and other programs shortly after his pick to head the agency is confirmed.
An administration official previously told InsideEPA Trump planned on signing executive orders at Pruitt’s swearing in ceremony that could “suck the air out of the room.”
The Senate is set to vote on Pruitt’s confirmation Thursday or Friday, and Pruitt’s expected to get enough votes to be confirmed. A swearing-in ceremony could happen late this week or early next week, depending on when the Senate votes.
InsideEPA’s source gave no details on how many orders Trump would sign or what the orders would address. The orders could target Obama-era global warming regulations among other EPA programs.
While it’s unknown exactly what Trump’s orders will be, his past statements provide hints.
On the campaign trail, Trump aid he’d “save the coal industry and other industries threatened by Hillary Clinton’s extremist agenda.” In that same speech he laid out his energy strategy for his first 100 days in office.
Trump unveiled an “America First Energy Plan” upon taking office that explicitly calls for “eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule.”
Former President Barack Obama’s “Climate Action Plan” includes a slew of regulatory and voluntary measures to reduce U.S. carbon greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent by 2025.
The plan mainly relies the Clean Power Plan (CPP), and EPA regulation cutting carbon dioxide emissions from new and existing power plants. Trump could order the agency to begin withdrawing the rule.
Likewise, Trump could order EPA to withdraw its “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule, or stop defending it in court. Both the CPP and WOTUS are being sued by dozens of states and business groups.
Trump could also order the EPA to withdraw its methane rule for oil and natural gas wells. That rule, however, is also locked up in litigation with North Dakota, so the Department of Justice could simply decline to defend it.
Withdrawing finalized regulations, however, could take months or even years if outside groups sue. Environmentalists are expected to sue Trump if he issues orders repealing Obama-era environmental regulations.
Trump’s also expected to issue executive orders to halt federal agencies use of the “social cost of carbon” estimate, and possibly the government’s “social cost of methane” estimate. Both those figures are used to justify far-reaching energy regulations.
If Trump really wanted to undercut EPA’s authority, he could update EPA’s endangerment finding for greenhouse gases. That 2009 finding provided EPA with the legal cover it needed to regulate greenhouse gases as pollutants, bringing about emissions rules for vehicles and power plants.
A former transition official told The Daily Caller News Foundation that fuel economy, or CAFE, standards could also come into play. Myron Ebell said rolling back Obama’s 54.5 miles per gallon mandate for new cars lines up well with Trump’s goals.
“It fits in well with his other climate commitments,” Ebell said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we find CAFE standards in the executive orders.”
EPA recently issued a progress report on its fuel standards, which it administers jointly with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), reaffirming the agency’s commitment to the 54.5 miles per gallon standard.
Automakers want Trump to roll back the fuel economy standards, arguing it could “threaten future production levels, putting hundreds of thousands and perhaps as many as a million jobs at risk.”
Trump could issue an order for agencies to revisit the fuel standards, but this time put NHTSA in charge of reviewing them, not EPA.
Trump’s May energy speech also mentioned withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement and cutting funding for United Nations climate programs.
InsideEPA mentioned one of Trump’s executive orders could be aimed at the State Department, hinting at a Paris withdrawal or UN funding cuts. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hinted he’d like to stay in the Paris agreement, which commits the U.S. to cutting greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent by 2025.
But will Trump only stick to repealing EPA climate rules, or will he go farther to repeal other agency regulations targeting the coal industry.
Trump could issue orders to withdraw EPA rules on ozone, regional haze, mercury and cross-state air pollution, living up to his promise to “save the coal industry and other industries” from over-regulation.
There’s also the issue of an Obama-era guidance on incorporating global warming into National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews. Republicans have been clamoring for Trump to rescind the guidance.
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