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Coal mining on our lands comes with serious environmental consequences that we can no longer afford - as seen at the Black Thunder mjne in Wyoming's Powder River Basin. Photo: courtesy of Ecoflight.
Coal mining on our lands comes with serious environmental consequences that we can no longer afford - as seen at the Black Thunder mjne in Wyoming's Powder River Basin. Photo: courtesy of Ecoflight.
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Executive Order removes climate safeguards - now, the fightback

Trip Van Noppen / EarthJustice

29th March 2017

In a potentially devastating blow to the Earth's climate, President Trump's new executive order ends the Interior Department's moratorium on coal mining on public land and begins a repeal of the landmark Clean Power Plan, writes Trip Van Noppen. But this reckless move will not pass unchallenged - the Supreme Court has ruled that the EPA must tackle climate pollution, and clean energy policies can still be defended and advanced at state level.

Trump's Order is inviting more super storms, deadly floods, epic droughts and uncontrollable wildfires. Just when we need accelerated investment in climate solutions, he is trying to block the rise of clean energy to benefit Big Oil and the coal industry.

The new EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, has defied science and common knowledge by claiming that carbon dioxide is not a primary contributor to climate change.

This stance from President Trump's appointee reflects an administration-wide disregard for climate change and caters to the bottom line of billionaire polluters, rather than protecting our public health.

Today, Trump solidified this trend. In a potential blow to America's climate and public health safeguards, he signed an executive order initiating a repeal of the EPA's Clean Power Plan, while also ending the Interior Department's moratorium on new coal mining on federal land.

Among other things, the executive order also instructs federal agencies to abandon their policy of factoring the impacts on climate change into government decisions.

And it orders the EPA and the Department of the Interior to dismantle Obama administration rules that reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector and regulate fracking on public land.

The landmark Clean Power Plan puts the US on a path toward seriously addressing climate change by building on and accelerating the transition to a clean energy future that is already underway in the power sector.

Americans' strong support for clean energy

People across this country - in red and blue states alike - broadly support clean air, clean energy and climate action to protect the health of our communities and families. Not only that, but the US Supreme Court has made clear that the EPA has a legal responsibility under the Clean Air Act to protect the public from dangerous climate pollution that threatens our economy, security and public health.

Trump is inviting more super storms, deadly floods, epic droughts and uncontrollable wildfires with his order to dismantle the Clean Power Plan. At a moment when we desperately need accelerated investment in climate solutions, both at the national and international level, he is trying to block the rise of clean energy to benefit Big Oil and the coal industry. 

But Trump hasn't stopped at attacking the Clean Power Plan. He's also trying to dismantle the Department of the Interior's moratorium on new coal leasing on federal lands.

This moratorium gives the federal Bureau of Land Management time to review outdated policies for managing billions of tons of federal coal and to ensure that taxpayers are getting a fair deal for coal mined on publicly owned land.

By repealing this common sense action, President Trump is ignoring the will of the public, as well as the current market demand for coal, which is at an all-time low. Meanwhile, the need for immediate action to address the threat of climate change could not be greater.

By cutting commonsense regulations that protect our air, water and climate from the oil and gas industry, Trump is taking aim at protections that deliver real benefits for American communities.

And by abandoning a policy that requires federal agencies to factor climate change into decision-making, Trump is allowing our federal government to walk blindfolded into the greatest challenge our society faces.

Corporate President versus The People

The theme is clear. Repeal after repeal, time after time, our president is siding with corporate polluters, especially coal and oil companies, over the health of millions of Americans and the realities of sound science.

He is wasting taxpayer resources and forcing agencies to spend valuable time preparing ineffective new rules to replace those he's rolling back, which will do far more to protect polluters' bottom lines than to protect our wellbeing.

Luckily, there's a lot that can be done at the state level to advance clean energy and combat climate change in lieu of federal action. Earthjustice is already working at the state level to defend and advance clean energy policies, and we've teamed up with technology innovators, entrepreneurs, public health experts and community leaders to build a resilient network of clean energy champions.

Together, we will tackle the fossil fuel industry, one state at a time, by using the full strength of our nation's bedrock environmental laws to protect our communities and secure our future. 



Trip Van Noppen leads Earthjustice's staff, board and supporters to advance the mission of using the courts to protect our environment and people's health.

This article was originally published by EarthJustice as part of its Capitol Watch series.

The Capitol Watch series

The 45th US president, Donald J. Trump, is bent on gutting environmental protections, and-with a polluter-friendly Congress at his side-he'll likely do everything he can to dismantle our fundamental right to a healthy environment. The Capitol Watch blog series will shine a light on these political attacks from Congress and the Trump administration, as well as the work of Earthjustice and our allies to hold them accountable.

Coal mining on our lands comes with serious consequences that we can no longer afford. Earthjustice is preparing to file a lawsuit challenging the result of the executive order on behalf of a coalition of local, regional and national groups working to protect public lands, air and water quality and the health of the planet. Photo courtesy of Ecoflight.


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