U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday to undo a slew of Obama-era climate change regulations that his administration says is hobbling oil drillers and coal miners, a move environmental groups have vowed to take to court.
The decree’s main target is former President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan that required states to slash carbon emissions from power plants – 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 so-called “Energy Independence” order also reverses a ban on coal leasing on federal lands, undoes rules to curb methane emissions from oil and gas production, and reduces 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 lined with coal miners.
The wide-ranging order is the boldest yet in Trump’s broader push to cut environmental regulation to revive the drilling and mining industries, a promise he made repeatedly during the presidential campaign. But energy analysts and executives have questioned whether the moves will have a big effect on their industries, and environmentalists have called them reckless.
“I cannot tell you how many jobs the executive order is going to create but I can tell you that it provides confidence in this administration’s commitment to the coal industry,” Kentucky Coal Association president Tyler White told Reuters.
Trump signed the order with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Vice President Mike Pence by his side.
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. But the United States still imports about 7.9 million barrels of crude oil a day, almost enough meet total oil demand in Japan and India combined.