In a case for having friends in high places, Reuters scored again
when a White House official, who declined to be named, related that President Trump is poised to issue another executive order sometime next week rescinding the coal ban and Clean Power Plan.
"Rescinding the federal coal leasing moratorium is part of that executive order, which has lots of different components, including the Clean Power Plan," the White House official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters.
This latest move by the Trump administration was expected. Removing or rescinding any and all Obama initiatives and rules is part of the Trump camp's war on environmental regulations that they claim are hurting the economy and jobs in the country and the roll-back of regulations is also part of Trump's campaign promises list.
The EPA's moratorium on coal leases
On January 15, 2016,
the Department of the Interior put a temporary ban on any new leases for coal mined on federally-owned lands. The moratorium was part of a sweeping review of the government's management of federally-owned lands in the western part of the country.
The coal leasing rules were 30 years old, and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said at the time the reason for the additional scrutiny was to find out if there were changes in the health and environmental impacts to whether U.S. citizens are getting a fair return for the hundreds of millions of tons of government-owned coal that are mined and sold each year.
IN a conference call, Jewell told reporters: "That was a time, 30 years ago, when our nation had very different priorities and needs. The result was a federal coal program designed to get as much coal out of the ground as possible, and in many ways, that’s the program that we’ve been operating ever since.”
FURTHER READING: Op-Ed: House GOP pressures EPA on carbon emissions proposal
Killing the coal lease moratorium could be as simple as Trump just asking the Interior Department to reverse the ban and resume the coal leasing program.
Getting rid of the Clean Power Plan may be harder
President Obama's final version of the Clean Power Plan was unveiled on August 3, 2015, setting a national limit on carbon dioxide pollution produced by coal-fired power plants. The plan had lofty but simple goals, actually. Each state was to submit a plan for how they would reduce CO2 emissions, based on their use of power from the national electrical grid.
In response to Obama's 2015 announcement, hundreds of businesses voiced support for the plan, including eBay, Nestlé, and General Mills. To show support for the Clean Power Plan, 360 other companies and investors sent letters to their governors. The companies and investors signing the letters represented all 50 states. Additionally, two-thirds of all electric utility companies supported the plan.
FURTHER READING: Canada to phase out coal-fired power plants by 2030
However, the Clean Power Plan has been held up because of continuing litigation by opponents since that time, with the latest litigation
being about both the constitutionality and the political effects of the plan. The Clean Power Plan was Obama's key effort in combating climate change and the cornerstone of America's fight to mitigate the impacts of carbon emissions on global temperature change.
How difficult will it be for Trump to kill the Clean Power Plan? Because it is in the court system, he will need to ask EPA head Scott Pruitt to, in turn, ask the courts to return the regulation to the agency for review, effectively stopping any legal defense. Even so, it is not going to be as easy as this sounds.
However, the more important issue with getting rid of coal lease bans and trashing the Clean Power Plan is what these moves will do to our economy, in the long run, the health of our population, and the environment. Just stop and think about that for the time being, OK?