Trump Orders Climate Policy Review, Cancellation

Published April 5, 2017

President Donald Trump recently signed a multi-part executive order rolling back numerous climate policies restricting fossil-fuel development and use imposed by President Barack Obama’s administration.

Surrounded by coal miners, the secretaries of the Interior Department and Energy Department, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Vice President Mike Pence, Trump signed the “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth” executive order at a March 28 press conference.

The order states it aims to secure national interests by “promot[ing] clean and safe development of our Nation’s vast energy resources, while at the same time avoiding regulatory burdens that unnecessarily encumber energy production, constrain economic growth, and prevent job creation.”

Ending Some Restrictions

The multi-part executive order reverses several Obama-era policies that restricted energy use to fight climate change. One section ends a moratorium on new coal leases on federal land. The executive order also instructs federal agencies not to consider climate change when developing federal contracts, issuing permits, formulating federal land-use plans, or requiring environmental impact statements.

The executive order also disbands the Interagency Working Group on Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases and withdraws the Obama administration’s social cost of carbon calculation from use by federal regulators.

Arguably the most significant section of Trump’s order directs EPA to conduct an expedited review of the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan and, if appropriate, rescind or significantly revise federal limits on carbon-dioxide emitted from existing and new power plants as soon as practicable.

Reversing ‘Outrageous Regulatory Overreach’

Myron Ebell, director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, says the executive order reverses illegal federal actions. Ebell led Trump’s EPA transition team.

“President Trump’s executive order begins to restore the rule of law by undoing some of the EPA’s outrageous regulatory overreach and President Obama’s even more outrageous rule by executive fiat,” Ebell said. “It also removes the climate infrastructure President Obama built into every government department and decision-making process.

“As a result of Trump’s order, the heartland states that still have affordable electricity will not be forced to adopt the disastrous energy-rationing policies being pursued by California, New York, and New England,” said Ebell. “This will help spark an economic boom in resource and manufacturing industries.”

Fueling Change

Economist John Goodman, president of the Goodman Institute, says Trump’s actions on climate and energy are taking the country in the right direction.

“From his appointment of Scott Pruitt as head of the EPA to his executive orders on energy independence, President Trump is showing he understands the need to radically reduce the regulatory burden American companies, especially in the energy industry, are facing,” Goodman said. “Energy is the lifeblood of the economy, so to the extent President Trump’s order expands the production and use of low-cost, efficient fossil fuels, he is truly putting American workers and consumers first.”

Ebell says there are additional major steps needed to promote energy independence.

“More remains to be done,” said Ebell. “President Trump needs to send the Paris Climate Treaty to the Senate for its advice and consent and direct the EPA to reopen the Endangerment Finding.”


President Donald J. Trump, “Executive Order Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth,” March 28, 2017: