WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday intended to increase U.S. energy independence by unraveling regulations former President Barack Obama had adopted to combat climate change.
The measures will stimulate the fossil-fuel industry by ending the “war on coal” and “theft of American prosperity,” Trump said at the Environmental Protection Agency offices, surrounded by coal miners whose jobs he said he was protecting.
Trump in years past has tweeted that he believes global warming is a “total, and very expensive, hoax” made up by “the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing noncompetitive.”
At the heart of his sweeping blueprint is a review of the Clean Power Plan, Obama’s landmark initiative to reduce carbon pollution by setting emissions standards on power plants.
Environmental advocacy groups and Democrats, including several New York officials, immediately condemned Trump’s plan as ignoring science and detrimental to public health.
The president said he is strengthening the U.S. economy.
“No single regulation threatens our miners, energy workers and companies more than this crushing attack on American industry,” Trump said of the Clean Power Plan.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer did not directly answer whether Trump still believes climate change is a hoax. But Spicer said Trump doesn’t believe he has to choose among “job creation, economic growth and caring about the environment.”
New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and California Gov. Jerry Brown said in a joint statement: “Climate change is real and will not be wished away by rhetoric or denial.”
A dismantling of the Clean Power Plan “is profoundly misguided and shockingly ignores basic science,” they said.
Greenpeace USA executive director Annie Leonard called Trump “a fossil-fuel industry stooge with a presidential pen” and added that “for all his bluster, the best Trump can do is delay America’s inevitable transition to clean energy.”
New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, who has defended the Clean Power Plan, told reporters Trump would have to come up with an alternative. He noted that Trump’s last repeal-and-replace effort “didn’t go so well,” a reference to last week’s withdrawal of the House GOP’s health care bill before a planned vote.
Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) said the order rolls back measures “meant to keep the air we breathe clean for families and children. Even if New York has clean power plants, polluters in other states will negatively impact our air quality.”
Among other actions, Trump’s order lifts a moratorium on new federal coal leases and changes the calculation for greenhouse gases’ “social cost,” which puts a dollar value on long-term damage.
Business groups and Republican leaders applauded him.
The Clean Power Plan “ravaged coal country and was temporarily blocked by the Supreme Court last year,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said, “These onerous regulations would have done far more harm to our state’s economy than good for the environment.”
American energy gives the country a competitive edge globally, said U.S. Chamber of Commerce president Thomas Donohue, adding, “The president’s effort to capitalize on those resources is vital to stimulating economic growth.”
Also Tuesday, Trump met at the White House with the Fraternal Order of Police. Spicer announced Trump will host Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi on Monday.