US climate and energy policies repealed

29 March 2017

A swathe of energy policies and regulations introduced by the Obama administration was deleted yesterday with the signing of an Energy Independence Policy Executive Order by US President Donald Trump. Among other things, the order repeals the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) 2015 Clean Power Plan.

Trump - Energy Independence exec order - 460  (White House)
Trump signs the Executive Order on Energy Independence (Image: The White House)

Prior to signing the order, Trump said: "The action I'm taking today will eliminate federal overreach, restore economic freedom, and allow our companies and our workers to thrive, compete, and succeed on a level playing field for the first time in a long time."

He added, "Today's energy independence action calls for an immediate re-evaluation of the so-called Clean Power Plan. Perhaps no single regulation threatens our miners, energy workers, and companies more than this crushing attack on American industry."

The Clean Power Plan was introduced by President Barack Obama and the EPA in August 2015 in an effort to cut US CO2 emissions by 32% from 2005 levels by 2030. The plan sets emissions standards for power plants and customised goals for states to cut carbon pollution. Although it allows credit for new nuclear power plants and uprates to existing units, the CPP does not recognise the role of existing nuclear capacity and does not credit nuclear licence extensions on the same basis as new capacity. The plan was to have been implemented by the end of 2015, but in February 2016 the US Supreme Court stayed its implementation pending judicial review.

The presidential executive order says it is in the USA's national interests to "promote clean and safe development" of its energy resources, while avoiding "regulatory burdens that unnecessarily encumber energy production, constrain economic growth, and prevent job creation". It adds that the country's electricity should be "affordable, reliable, safe, secure, and clean, and that it can be produced from coal, natural gas, nuclear material, flowing water, and other domestic sources, including renewable sources".

Trump's executive order calls for the EPA to "suspend, revise, or rescind four actions related to the Clean Power Plan that would stifle the American energy industry". It also directs the Attorney General "to seek appropriate relief from the courts over pending litigation related to the Clean Power Plan".

The order also "rescinds executive and agency actions centred on the previous administration's climate change agenda that have acted as a road block to energy independence". It calls for the ban on federal leasing for coal production to be lifted and removes "job-killing" restrictions on the production of oil, natural gas, and shale energy.

Trump has ordered all executive departments and agencies to conduct a review of existing actions that harm US energy production and "suspend, revise, or rescind actions that are not mandated by law". The agencies must finalise their plans within 180 days.

The president also directed agencies to "use the best available science and economics in regulatory analysis, which was not utilised by the previous administration".

Trump said: "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."

An unnamed senior administration official, speaking at a White House background briefing on 27 March, said Trump "believes that we can serve the twin goals of protecting the environment and providing clean air and clean water, getting the EPA back to its core mission, while at the same time, again, moving forward on energy production in the United States".

Maria Korsnick, CEO of the Washington, DC-based Nuclear Energy Institute, said in a statement: "Today President Trump said his Executive Order on energy will make America safer while keeping the nation's air and water clean. America's 99 nuclear plants provide that every day, along with 100,000 jobs as they produce nearly 20% of our electricity." She added, "Unless federal and state governments act to preserve both our operating plants and the nuclear supply chain, policy makers run the risk of sacrificing American nuclear leadership in favour of China or Russia. That would be a mistake that would have devastating consequences for America's economy, environment and national security."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News