WASHINGTON — An executive order President Trump signed Tuesday won’t just repeal his predecessor’s regulations on power plants. It’s a sweeping demolition of Obama-era policies on coal mining, fracking, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.
Trump’s executive order takes aim at a wide range of Obama policy tools, including executive orders, presidential memoranda, regulations and policy guidance. Some of those Trump can eliminate with the stroke of a pen. Many would require a new regulatory process, which could be subject to new lawsuits and controversies.
One senior administration official, speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity Monday because the order had not yet been finalized, identified at least 10 specific Obama policies that Trump would attempt to undo. They include:
1. A 2016 Obama memorandum identifying climate change as a national security issue, and directing the Pentagon and other agencies to “ensure that climate change-related impacts are fully considered in the development of national security doctrine, policies, and plans.”
2. A 2015 Obama executive order requiring agencies to take steps to reduce their energy consumption fossil fuels, with a goal of a 40% reduction in greenhouse gases produced by the federal government.
3. A 2013 Obama executive order directing federal agencies to prepare for and mitigate the effects of climate change, including “an increase in prolonged periods of excessively high temperatures, more heavy downpours, an increase in wildfires, more severe droughts, permafrost thawing, ocean acidification, and sea-level rise.”
4. The Clean Power Plan, an ambitious rule that attempted to set a national limit on carbon emissions from existing power plants. That rule has already been temporarily held up by the Supreme Court. If not already struck down by the courts, the Environmental Protection Agency would have to go through a new rulemaking process to seek comments on any new rule dismantling the Obama policy.
5. The new plant rule, another component of the Clean Power Plan that addresses new power plants. It, too, would be subject to a new rulemaking process.
6. The consideration of the social cost of greenhouse gases and climate change in conducting environmental impact assessments, expanding the scope of the National Environmental Policy Act. That policy change came in a guidance document from the White House Council on Environmental Quality last August, and can be immediately rescinded.
7. The moratorium on coal mining on federal and tribal lands. This change doesn’t require a new regulation and can be implemented immediately.
8. A 2016 regulation from the EPA limiting methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. Like all final regulations, the Trump administration would have to start the regulatory process from the beginning in order to rescind the rule.
9. A similar rule from the Bureau of Land Management limiting “venting, flaring and leaking” on oil and gas wells on federal lands, which would also be reviewed for possible repeal.
10. The BLM’s hydraulic fracturing rule, which tightened standards on gas well construction, governed the disposal of fracking waste and required disclosure on the fracking chemicals used. That rule has also been held up in court, but would require a new rulemaking process to formally take off the books.