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Trump’s Executive Order On Energy: This Time, He Listened To The Lawyers

March 29, 2017

By Paul Homewood




From Forbes:


President Donald Trump’s executive order dismantling large chunks of Barrack Obama’s environmental legacy is a cleverly written document that avoids the pitfalls of Trump’s controversial orders on immigration. Unlike those orders, which have been suspended by federal courts, this one bears the clear stamp of experienced government lawyers and leaves the administration with a rich variety of tactical choices on how to eliminarte Obama-era regulations on fossil fuels.

The 7-page order  released this afternoon reverses a string of Obama’s presidential orders, including findings on the dangers of human-induced climate change and methane emissions. It also orders federal agencies to examine all of their actions related to the previous administration’s scientific findings on climate change with orders to "suspend, revise, or rescind" rules and regulations or begin the notice and comment period to reverse them. These are all legal steps that will spawn lawsuits by states and environmental groups opposed to the Trump administration’s regulatory rollback, but are designed to capitalize on the broad discretion given to federal agencies to interpret the law under the so-called Chevron doctrine.

The order doesn’t rescind Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which has been suspended by the Supreme Court while a Washington appeals court considers its fate. But the order lays the groundwork for rescinding the CPP by instructing Environmental Protection Agency Chief Scott Pruitt to review and potentially "take legal action" to reverse the legal memorandum the Obama administration relied upon to justify the CPP’s sweeping controls on the electric utility grid. To accomplish that goal the EPA reversed a decades-old understanding of a tangled section of the Clean Air Act.  The incoming administration can choose to reinterpret it again, and it can cite as a legal defense the fact that it is merely returning to a long-held understanding of the statute.

"The lawyers really had their way with this one," said said Thomas Lorenzen, a partner with Crowell & Moring in Washington and former assistant chief of the Justice Dept.’s environmental law section. "It is a very carefully constructed order."

Eliminating the previous administration’s legal memorandum could be a speedier way to get rid of the CPP, although it would still have to go through a notice and comment period as well as the inevitable legal challenges. The government wouldn’t have to delve as deeply into the scientific record, however, which the Obama administration provided in ample detail to justify its plan. Instead, the Trump administration would argue the CPP, which takes a systemwide approach toward reducing CO2 emissions, is based on an incorrect reading of federal law. The new EPA plan could return to "inside the fence" regulations on individual power plants, still holding them to strict efficiency standards that will be hard for coal plants to meet, but not eliminating them entirely. The CPP used "outside the fence" regulations imposed on entire regional electricity grids to effectively remove coal plants from the mix.

The order also calls for the elimination of the Interagency Working Group on Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases, as well as its findings on the cost of global warming, which it pegged at $42 a ton by 2020. Effective immediately, the administration will use Bush-era standards to judge the cost of carbon emissions.

The Trump administration still faces hurdles, including a federal appeals court ruling upholding the Obama administration’s findings on the dangers of CO2 emissions from automobiles. But the new administration can use Chevron deference to its advantage here as well, Lorenzen said: The court ruling, which the U.S. Supreme Court refused to overturn, says the Obama administration’s finding was reasonable. The EPA under Pruitt need only muster enough scientific evidence to show that its findings are also reasonable, a relatively low bar for an agency to get over.

  1. sarastro92 permalink
    March 29, 2017 2:53 pm

    The only concern is that in eliminating CO2 metrics, these exec orders might slip in exemptions for stuff in the are which really is toxic.. ie lead, mercury and particulates

  2. Broadlands permalink
    March 29, 2017 3:41 pm

    “The order also calls for the elimination of the Interagency Working Group on Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases, as well as its findings on the cost of global warming, which it pegged at $42 a ton by 2020.”

    One ppm of CO2 represents 2.13 gigatons. $42 a ton for CO2 alone represents more than $8 billion… to lower atmospheric CO2 by just ONE ppm. Never mind lowering emissions to zero with “alternative” energy. Is anyone paying attention, besides Trump?

  3. March 29, 2017 3:57 pm

    The AGW paradigm is garbage. Only brazen chicanery, misrepresentation, data manipulation, fraud and persistent outright lies have provided the basis for any sort adherence at all. Trump has a cheap and effective solution to hand, namely to link funding to an insistence on open forum debate of the science. For three decades now, a corrupt academia and a complicit mass media have censored such debate which, in consequence, has been conspicuous by is absence even in the face of gazillions in treasure squandered and in the face too of vast ecological damage.

    AGW promoters avoid such confrontations at all costs in the full knowledge that, in the public mind, they’ll be rumbled.

    • Broadlands permalink
      March 29, 2017 4:33 pm

      Obviously, we just don’t understand! The “science is settled”! Get out the the way so others can spend other’s money to spend all of us into financial and social oblivion. After all, global temperatures have reached 0.8°C above “normal” and are projected to send us to an expected “catastrophe”. Seems simple enough?

  4. Andy DC permalink
    March 29, 2017 10:08 pm

    What is the amount of money saved by having a mild winter?

  5. March 30, 2017 1:51 pm

    I was not so appreciative of Forbes’ swipe at President Trump. Here is the US Code which he followed. He should tell the 9th Circuit (or 9th “Circus”) Court to pound sand.

    8 U.S. Code § 1182 – Inadmissible aliens
    (f) Suspension of entry or imposition of restrictions by President
    Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate. Whenever the Attorney General finds that a commercial airline has failed to comply with regulations of the Attorney General relating to requirements of airlines for the detection of fraudulent documents used by passengers traveling to the United States (including the training of personnel in such detection), the Attorney General may suspend the entry of some or all aliens transported to the United States by such airline.

    • duker permalink
      April 1, 2017 11:42 pm

      Thats only looking at one law, there are others saying you cant discriminate in admitting non residents.
      Obama had a better solution back in 2015, he got Congress to pass a new law which detailed his restrictions. Executive Orders are a a dubious way to achieve this as they are subject to judicial review and as has happened , stays on implementation until a full hearing is heard.
      Obama had is EO’s regarding immigration stopped by courts too, its their system where the courts are seen as equal to other branches of government.

  6. simple-touriste permalink
    April 1, 2017 3:20 pm

    From France, I don’t understand all this chicanerie. Trump got both assemblies. The anti-“regulation” people are overwhelming. There are deep disagreements on healthcare in the majority, but not on “regulation” of CO2 emissions.

    Why can’t the congress plainly state that the courts were wrong in their interpretation of the law, and that global issues, like “climate change” or “ozone layer”, be they absolutely certain, potential, or imaginary, are not “pollution” issues under the law?

    CO2 could still be “regulated”, but not under the umbrella of a law designed for sulfur and NOx. The discussion over whether CO2 is an issue would happen out of courts.

    I understand that lawyers need to survive, but could they fight over something else? There are many other laws to fight over.

    • bea permalink
      April 1, 2017 4:53 pm

      “…I don’t understand…”

      Most of the Republican Party’s politicos are to the LEFT of Republican VOTERS.

    • duker permalink
      April 2, 2017 12:03 am

      Well they did in 2015.
      Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015

      But the trouble with that is Trump wants all the glory for himself- hes not prepared to do the work and run these things through Congress

  7. April 2, 2017 9:08 am

    Reblogged this on ajmarciniak.

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