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Donald Trump signs order to roll back Obama's climate change measures

News Agencies | Updated on: 29 March 2017, 16:00 IST

US President Donald Trump on 29 March, 2017 signed another controversial executive order to radically change his predecessor Barack Obama's climate policies, dealing a body blow to the international efforts to combat global warming.

Trump signed the order at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), keeping his campaign promise to support the coal industry.

Trump said the order will "eliminate federal overreach" and "start a new era of production and job creation".

"With today's executive action, I am taking historic steps to lift the restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion and to cancel job-killing regulations," Trump said after signing the order.

"My action today is the latest in the series of steps to create American jobs and to grow American wealth. We're ending the theft of American prosperity and rebuilding our beloved country," Trump said.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Trump strongly believed that protecting environment and "promoting our economy are not mutually exclusive goals".

"This executive order will help to ensure that we have clean air and clean water without sacrificing economic growth and job creation," he said.

The order directs all agencies to conduct a review of all regulations, rules, policies and guidance documents that put up roadblocks to domestic energy production.

The order did not mention new administration's stance on the 2015 Paris climate deal, but experts believe that it has implications for the agreement.

The order represents a clear difference between how Trump and former President Obama view the role the US plays in combating climate change, and dramatically alters the government's approach to rising sea levels and temperatures -- two impacts of climate change, the CNN said.

During the campaign, Trump had vowed to pull the US out of the Paris climate deal.

The US is the world's second-largest greenhouse gas emitter after China. Among the initiatives now rescinded is the Clean Power Plan, which required states to slash carbon emissions to meet US commitments under the Paris accord.

Without the previous rules in place, the US is set to fall far short of its 2015 Paris agreement pledge to lower emissions by at least 26 per cent below 2005 levels by 2025, The New York Times said.

The order directs the EPA to take several actions to reflect the President's environmental and economic goals, including a review of the new performance standards for coal- fired and natural gas-fired plants that amount to a de facto ban on new coal plant production in the US.

In his address, Trump said his measures would start a new energy revolution.

"We are going to start a new energy revolution, one that celebrates American production on American soil. We want to make our goods here, instead of shipping them in from other countries. All over the world, they ship in, ship in, take the Americans' money, take the money, go home, take our jobs, take our companies, no longer folks, no longer," he said.

"We believe in those really magnificent words, made in the US. We will unlock job producing natural gas, oil and shale energy. We will produce American coal to power American industry. We will transport American energy through American pipelines made with American steel, made with American steel, can you believe somebody would actually say that?" he said.

The opposition Democratic party and environmental groups, however, slammed Trump for his latest move.

"We risk throwing away decades of hard work growing the clean energy economy and connecting our nation's workers to the jobs of the future with this partisan and misguided action," said Indian-American Congressman Ami Bera, who is a Ranking Member of the Space Subcommittee of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

"Putting America first means continuing our role as a global leader in reducing carbon emissions. Our work over the last decade to reduce carbon emissions put America first - and this irresponsible executive order throws into uncertainty how we prepare for and tackle the very real consequences of climate change," Bera said.

Christiana Figueres, former executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said Trump's action risked putting the US on the back foot.

"I don't know anyone who wants to breathe dirty air, who wants to worry about their water source, or who wants to leave a dangerous world to their children," she said.

"And because we are all united by these common desires, I am optimistic that Paris will endure, with world leadership remaining resilient in its commitments to Paris."

Outside the White House, a few hundred protesters gathered to vent their displeasure at the executive order.

"The administration's spiteful assault on the Clean Power Plan will not bring back jobs to coal country, it will only poison our air and undermine America's ability to win the good-paying jobs of the future," Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said.

The governors of California and New York said that they will push ahead with their aggressive climate change policies despite Trump's executive order.
 
"With or without Washington, we will work with our partners throughout the world to aggressively fight climate change and protect our future," Jerry Brown of California and Andrew Cuomo of New York said.

Environmental groups vowed to fight the order.

"It's a senseless betrayal of our national interests," Natural Resources Defence Council president Rhea Suh said.

The Environmental Defence Fund, which has championed free-market solutions to challenges posed by climate change, said the Trump order points the nation "backward to an era of more pollution and more disease".

However, Congressional Western Caucus praised Trump for his executive order.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said Trump's executive order will help America's energy workers and reverse much of the damage done.

"In particular, I hope that this action will result in full repeal of the Clean Power Plan, which ravaged coal country and was temporarily blocked by the Supreme Court in 2016. We are committed to repealing regulations that hurt jobs and drive up the cost of energy," he said.

The executive order on climate change is the second controversial order that Trump has signed after taking over as the president.

Earlier he had singed an executive order to bar citizens of seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the US. He had to issued a revised order after a US judge blocked the previous executive decision.
 
-PTI
First published: 29 March 2017, 16:00 IST
 
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