Trump Administration goal: undo every climate-change effort

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Donald Trump

Donald Trump

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It was clear well before November's election that candidate Donald Trump did not believe in the accepted science of climate change.

He referred to it using an excremental epithet, and also claimed that it was a Chinese hoax created to hurt the U.S.

Scientists around the world and the majority of Americans accept the science of climate change, but the 45th president of the United States does not.

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Nor does the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, who sued the agency he now runs more than a dozen times as attorney general of Oklahoma to prevent it from enforcing rules limiting emissions by the state's powerful fossil-fuel extraction industry.

It later turned out that Pruitt's office had copied and pasted language sent to it by fossil-fuel companies into its legal arguments against the EPA.

So it shouldn't come as any surprise that the new administration has embarked on ambitious plans to undo every vestige of President Obama's efforts to limit emissions of carbon dioxide, the most prevalent climate-change gas.

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Chrome exhaust pipe

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An article last week in The New York Times laid out in grim detail exactly what the administration plans to do to eradicate every U.S. effort to limit CO2 emissions.

It's worth reading in full to understand the different fronts on which the administration intends to attack existing legislation and free industries and vehicles to emit more carbon than currently permitted.

As the Times notes, the Trump Administration plans "send an unmistakable signal to the nation and the world that Mr. Trump intends to follow through on his campaign vows to rip apart every element of what the president has called Mr. Obama’s 'stupid' policies to address climate change."

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The White House draft budget, which has no chance of passing Congress as it sits, also cuts EPA funding by 31 percent and ends all climate-change research.

The EPA's Clean Power Plan, which required each state to establish a locally suitable program to cut carbon emissions from its electric utilities, was already held up in court following a lawsuit against it filed by 24 states.

While many West Coast and Northeastern states are already well into such planning, the Clean Power Plan was fiercely resisted by numerous states in the center of the country—many of which have the dirtiest and most coal-intensive grid mixes.

Coal, by Flicker user oatsy40 (Used Under CC License)

Coal, by Flicker user oatsy40 (Used Under CC License)

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The Times suggests that Trump has not decided whether to withdraw from the landmark 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

The proposed changes would make it impossible for the U.S. to meet its obligations under that treaty.

There are, however, limits to what the president can do by executive order. He is not likely, for instance, to be able to bring back the U.S. coal industry, one of many promises he made around the theme of good-paying jobs.

New discoveries of cheaper natural gas, extracted via hydrofracking, have made coal—especially that mined by humans—economically uncompetitive, even for the many users who don't care that natural gas produces energy with a much lower carbon burden per kilowatt-hour than does coal.

But there is good news on the horizon: global emissions of carbon dioxide were flat last year for the third year in a row, conclusively proving that economic growth and industrial production do not require increased carbon emissions.

And many analysts say that large-scale renewable energy will be less expensive than power produced from fossil fuels within the next 10 years. In some circumstances, it already is.

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