As President Trump prepares to unveil an executive order to dismantle President Barack Obama’s climate change policies, Washington’s policy-making posts are filling with officials who have a record of openly denying the established science of human-caused climate change.
Climate denial starts at the top:
Mr. Trump, the ultimate decider, has demonstrated a cavalier approach to the peer-reviewed atmospheric data that makes up the core of climate science. He has called Mr. Obama’s climate change regulations “stupid.” But in other forums, he has denied making some of those statements and shifted his position.
A shuttered coal mining site in Letcher County, Ky. Credit George Etheredge for The New York Times By CORAL DAVENPORTMARCH 27, 2017
President Trump is expected to sign an executive order on Tuesday to roll back most of President Barack Obama’s climate change legacy, celebrating the move as a way to increase the nation’s “energy independence” and to restore thousands of lost coal mining jobs.
But energy economists say the expected order falls short of both of those goals — in part because the United States already largely relies on domestic sources for the coal and natural gas that fires most of the nation’s power plants.
“We don’t import coal,” said Robert Stavins, an energy economist at Harvard University. “So in terms of the Clean Power Plan, this has nothing to do with so-called energy independence whatsoever.”
President Trump is expected to sign an executive order Tuesday that calls on Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, to take steps to dismantle the Clean Power Plan, a set of rules regulating energy plants powered by fossil fuels.
What was happening with the Clean Power Plan until now?
The plan, which would have regulated carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil fuel-powered electricity plants, has been tied up in courts for more than a year, after more two dozen states, industry representatives and others sued the E.P.A. They claimed that the plan was unconstitutional, and it hadn’t yet taken effect because the Supreme Court had said the plan could not be carried out while it was being argued before a lower federal court.
Mr. Trump criticized the Clean Power Plan during the campaign and promised to bring back coal mining jobs and create new jobs in the fossil fuel industry; the rules would have made that more difficult. Mr. Pruitt, as Oklahoma’s attorney general, sued the E.P.A. 14 times over environmental regulations, including the Clean Power Plan.
What happens next?
The problem for Mr. Trump and Mr. Pruitt is that, if they get rid of this plan, they are legally required to come up with another one.
Plus, in order to repeal regulations, federal agencies have to follow the same rule-making system (requiring periods of public notice and comment) used to create regulations, which can take about a year.
General news publications and broadcasters, as well as media outlets dedicated to science, have failed to consistently match the volume, quality, and depth of coverage published by outlets such as Climate Central and InsideClimate News, both of which are nonprofit, non-partisan organizations. InsideClimate reporters David Hasemyer, Elizabeth McGowan, and Lisa Song even won a Pulitzer Prize in 2013 for their coverage of a Michigan oil spill.
But after some shifting commitments on climate change and environmental coverage, The New York Times has devoted significant resources to this beat in the past few months. And The Washington Post is moving in a similar direction.
The Times’ approach involves a team of journalists dedicated to the climate and environment beat. Hannah Fairfield, who began her career as a graphics editor at the newspaper in 2000, started in February as the Times’ climate editor, a newly created position. Her experience also includes a two-year stint as graphics director at The Washington Post.
President Trump will sign executive actions Tuesday that aim to roll back a sweeping set of climate policies put in place by the Obama administration. A moratorium on new coal leases on public lands, a rule designed to address methane emissions from oil and gas operations and the Clean Power Plan, will all get a review.
Scientists are turning to technology to counter global warming. Harvard researchers are launching the world’s biggest solar geoengineering study aimed at altering the planet’s temperature. RT America’s Marina Portnaya has the details.
Welcome to Transition Studies. To prosper for very much longer on the changing Earth humankind will need to move beyond its current fossil-fueled civilization toward one that is sustained on recycled materials and renewable energy. This is not a trivial shift. It will require a major transition in all aspects of our lives.
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