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Trump wages battle against regulations, not climate change

  • FILE - In this June 1, 2017 file photo, President Donald Trump shakes hands with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt after speaking about the US role in the Paris climate change accord in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. Trump's recent decision to pull the United States from the international climate deal reached in Paris was but the latest in a rapid-fire series of moves that would weaken or dismantle federal initiatives to reduce carbon emissions, which scientists say are heating the planet to levels that could have disastrous consequences. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) Andrew Harnik

  • FILE - In this June 1, 2017 file photo, a wind turbine, part of the Lost Creek Wind Farm, is silhouetted against the setting sun near King City, Mo. President Donald Trump's recent decision to pull the United States from the international climate deal reached in Paris was but the latest in a rapid-fire series of moves that would weaken or dismantle federal initiatives to reduce carbon emissions, which scientists say are heating the planet to levels that could have disastrous consequences. . (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) Charlie Riedel

  • The coal-fired Plant Scherer, one of the nation’s top carbon dioxide emitters, stands in the distance in Juliette, Ga. AP

  • FILE - In this June 1, 2017 file photo, President Donald Trump arrives in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, to speak about the US role in the Paris climate change accord. Trump's recent decision to pull the United States from the international climate deal reached in Paris was but the latest in a rapid-fire series of moves that would weaken or dismantle federal initiatives to reduce carbon emissions, which scientists say are heating the planet to levels that could have disastrous consequences. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) Andrew Harnik

  • FILE - In this June 1, 2017 file photo, President Donald Trump listens as EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt speaks about the U.S. role in the Paris climate change accord in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. Trump's recent decision to pull the United States from the international climate deal reached in Paris was but the latest in a rapid-fire series of moves that would weaken or dismantle federal initiatives to reduce carbon emissions, which scientists say are heating the planet to levels that could have disastrous consequences. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) Pablo Martinez Monsivais



Associated Press
Saturday, June 10, 2017

While President Donald Trump’s beliefs about global warming remain something of a mystery, his actions make one thing clear: He doesn’t consider it a problem for the federal government to solve.

Trump’s recent decision to pull out of the Paris climate deal was just his latest rapid-fire move to weaken or dismantle federal initiatives to reduce carbon emissions, which scientists say are heating the planet to levels that could have disastrous consequences.

Trump is waging war against efforts to curb U.S. dependence on fossil fuels. He’s done that through executive orders targeting climate change programs and regulations, massive proposed spending cuts and key appointments such as Scott Pruitt as chief of the Environmental Protection Agency.

To what degree Trump will succeed remains to be seen. Despite the fanfare of his Paris announcement, including a pledge that his administration will halt all work on it, formally removing the U.S. from the accord could take more than three years. Rescinding the Clean Power Plan, President Barack Obama’s signature measure to curb emissions from coal-fired power plants, likely would require three years. Trump’s budget, which would slash funding for climate research and assistance to cities preparing for weather-related calamities, needs approval from Congress, where resistance is strong.

Still, the sharp change in course is being felt in ways large and small, down to the scrubbing of climate change information from federal agency websites. Environmentalists are predictably outraged. Even some Republicans are taken aback.

“This is a repudiation of 45 years of steady improvement in the enforcement and rigor of laws to protect the environment in the U.S.,” said William Reilly, who led the EPA under President George H. W. Bush and is chairman emeritus of the World Wildlife Fund.

Trump’s administration reversed Obama’s moratorium on leasing federal lands for coal mining, joined with Congress to kill protections of streams from coal mining waste, stopped tracking the federal government’s carbon emissions and withdrew a requirement for more emissions data from oil and gas facilities. A rollback of automobile fuel-economy standards is under consideration. His proposed 2018 budget would cut climate and energy research spending in numerous agencies, including a two-thirds reduction at EPA.

Trump is hardly the first president accused of favoring businesses over the environment. His belief in easing the regulatory burden on them is firmly in the Republican mainstream.

What sets him apart is his zealousness and public dismissiveness of the scientific evidence showing the Earth is warming and man-made carbon emissions are largely to blame.

“This is more extreme than any previous Republican president – this is their old set of sentiments on steroids,” said David Doniger, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “There’s no orderly, reasonable inquiry into whether something makes sense and should be left in place.”

At one point, Trump labeled global warming a “hoax” concocted by the Chinese to gain an economic edge over the U.S. Aides recently have sidestepped questions about whether he accepts the widely held scientific view about climate change.

A White House statement issued this past week in response to questions from the Associated Press did not specify whether Trump believes the planet has been steadily warming, or say to what extent human activity such as burning of fossil fuels is responsible.