WASHINGTON, D.C. President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday to undo a slew of Obama-era environmental regulations that his administration says is hobbling oil drillers and coal miners.The “Energy Independence” order’s main target is former President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, requiring states to slash carbon dioxide emissions from power plants what supporters say is a critical element in helping the United States meet its commitments to a global climate change accord reached by nearly 200 countries in Paris in 2015.The order will also reverse a ban on coal leasing on federal lands, undo rules to curb methane emissions from oil and gas production, and reduce the weight of climate change and carbon emissions in policy and infrastructure permitting decisions.”I am taking historic steps to lift restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion, and to cancel job-killing regulations,” Trump said at the Environmental Protection Agency headquarters, speaking on a stage with coal miners, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Vice President Mike Pence.”Together we are going to start a new energy revolution, one that celebrates American production on America soil. We want to make our goods here, instead of shipping them in from other countries,” said Trump. “We believe in those magnificent words, Made in the U.S.A. We will unlock job producing natural gas, oil and shale energy.”U.S. presidents have aimed to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil since the Arab oil embargo of the 1970s, which triggered soaring prices. While the United States still imports about 7.9 million barrels of crude oil a day, imports are down 22 percent from the 2005 peak, thanks mostly to the development of domestic shale deposits. The U.S. became a net exporter of natural gas for the first time in history in 2016, also due to the shale boom.Environmental groups criticized Trump’s order, calling it dangerous and saying goes against the broader global trend toward cleaner energy technologies. Groups say they will fight the order in court.”These actions are an assault on American values and they endanger the health, safety and prosperity of every American,” said billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer, the head of activist group NextGen Climate.The order will direct the EPA to start a formal “review” process to undo the Clean Power Plan, which was introduced by Obama in 2014 but was halted by the U.S. Supreme Court in early 2016 while legal challenges play out. Republican-controlled states, including North Carolina, argued that the part of the plan that sets regulations on carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants is well beyond the agency’s grant of authority from Congress.Earlier in March, N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein withdrew North Carolina from the lawsuit over the Clean Power Plan, an action which has no effect on the plan’s application to North Carolina electric generating plants or to the legal challenges.Trump’s order also lifts the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management’s temporary ban on coal leasing on federal property put in place by Obama in 2016 as part of a review to study the program’s impact on climate change and ensure royalty revenues were fair to taxpayers.It also asks federal agencies to discount the cost of carbon in policy decisions and the weight of climate change considerations in infrastructure permitting, and reverses rules limiting methane leakage from oil and gas facilities.
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