Sean Hackbarth Sean Hackbarth
Senior Editor, Digital Content, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


March 28, 2017


“We’re going to start a new energy revolution,” President Donald Trump declared at EPA headquarters.

His energy Executive Order (EO) begins reversing the many anti-energy policies advanced by President Obama’s administration.

“The action I’m taking will eliminate executive overreach, restore economic freedom, and allow our companies and our workers to thrive, compete, and succeed,” President Trump insisted. “We’re going to expand energy production, and we will also create more jobs in infrastructure, trucking, and manufacturing.”

CNN reports on what the EO does:

Tuesday's order initiates a review of the Clean Power Plan, rescinds the moratorium on coal mining on US federal lands and urges federal agencies to "identify all regulations, all rules, all policies ... that serve as obstacles and impediments to American energy independence," the official said.

Specifically, the order rescinds at least six Obama-era executive orders aimed at curbing climate change and regulating carbon emissions, including Obama's November 2013 executive order instructing the federal government to prepare for the impact of climate change and the September 2016 presidential memorandum that outlined the "growing threat to national security" that climate change poses.

Dan Byers of the Institute for 21st Century Energy gets into more detail on what the EO does in this blog post.

The pieces that grab the headlines are the reviews of President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) and New Source Performance Standard (NSPS) rule for new power plants. The CPP would have forced closure of approximately 20% of the country’s existing coal-fired power, and the NSPS would have effectively made it illegal to build new coal plants anywhere in the U.S.

The CPP has been put on hold by the federal courts since 2016, and the NSPS awaits a hearing in April.

Note, a president can’t simply declare a set of regulations on the books null and void. As Byers explains:

[I]t’s important to remember that President Trump’s action on CPP and NSPS is only the first step in what will be an involved deregulatory process, complete with a proposal, public comment period, and inevitable follow-on litigation. But once that process is completed, there is every reason to believe that the Trump Administration will successfully send the CPP and NSPS to the regulatory ash heap.

One provision that deserves more notice is one that rescinds an Obama administration requirement that agencies consider greenhouse gas emissions when issuing federal environmental permits. This order was an obstacle to building needed energy infrastructure as well as to the construction of highways, bridges, and railroads.

President Trump’s EO also lifts the Obama administration moratorium on new coal leases on federal lands. This was a generous gift to President Obama’s anti-energy allies. Forty percent of coal mined in the United States comes from federal lands. An affordable fuel for generating electricity can be tapped once again.

Overall, this EO is a total reversal from President Obama’s approach to energy. Our previous president talked a lot about an “all-of-the-above” energy policy, only to make decisions that held American energy producers back.

Now, with President Trump, we have someone in the White House who has aligned words with actions in a pro-growth way. Instead of energy policies that favor radical “Keep it in the ground” proponents, we’re seeing policies that in President Trump words, “celebrates American production on American soil.”

About the authors

Sean Hackbarth

Sean Hackbarth

Sean writes about public policies affecting businesses including energy, health care, and regulations. When not battling those making it harder for free enterprise to succeed, he raves about all things Wisconsin (his home state) and religiously follows the Green Bay Packers.

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