Turn to the nation's most objective and informative daily environmental news resource to learn how the United States and key players around the world are responding to the environmental...
The Trump administration rolled back many of its predecessor’s signature climate change measures with an energy-focused executive order, but the order was notably silent on several Obama-era climate programs that don’t affect the energy industry.
Trump’s March 28 order either rescinded or began the process of rescinding numerous regulations on power plants, oil and gas drillers, coal miners and others in the energy sector.
But his executive order left untouched several other Obama-launched initiatives meant to combat climate change. These include measures that affect the chemicals, waste management, agriculture and aviation industries, and some of these measures impose significant costs on those industries.
The fact that Trump is willing to let these Obama-era measures stand—at least for now—indicates his White House may be taking a less dogmatic stance toward climate change than one would expect, given the many statements of climate skepticism that have come from administration officials and from the president himself.
The Trump administration did not respond on the record to a request for comment for this story.
The executive order leaves intact the Obama administration’s ban on a type of refrigerant chemical called hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs. These chemicals were targeted in Obama’s 2013 Climate Action Plan because, while they are a small contributor to climate change, they are also highly potent greenhouse gasses that trap 1,000 times more heat in the atmosphere than the same amount of carbon dioxide.
The ban’s exclusion from the executive order comes as little surprise, since just weeks earlier Trump administration attorneys went to court to defend it against a legal challenge from HFC manufacturers ( Mexichem Fluor Inc. v. EPA, No. 15-01328 (D.C. Cir. 2/17/17)).
David Doniger, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said Trump’s defense of his predecessor’s HFC ban betrays the White House’s contradictory stance toward the issue of a warming planet.
“They seemed to a draw distinction: ‘Climate change is a hoax when it involves the energy industry, but not a hoax when it involves the chemicals industry,’” Doniger said at a March 22 D.C. Bar panel discussion.
Though Trump’s executive order took aim at a number of regulations on methane emissions, it didn’t address a particular regulation on methane emissions from landfills that the Environmental Protection Agency finalized last year. The waste management industry is challenging this regulation in federal court, arguing that its emissions thresholds are too difficult to meet ( Nat’l Waste and Recycling Ass’n v. EPA, No. 16-01371 (D.C. Cir. 10/27/16)).
The lead plaintiffs in this case said they didn’t anticipate the Trump administration to pull back this EPA landfill rule in his executive order.
“There wasn’t a big expectation on our part,” Anne Germain, a director with the National Waste and Recycling Association, told Bloomberg BNA. “The president is really trying to focus [deregulation efforts] on energy production and isn’t targeting methane holistically.”
Significantly, Trump’s executive order did not instruct the EPA to rescind its 2009 finding that carbon dioxide is a pollutant, a landmark document that laid the basis for nearly all of the agency’s climate regulations during the Obama era.
The order also did not nullify a much narrower EPA finding from last year on the pollution effects of greenhouse gas emissions from airplanes. This finding triggers a legal requirement that the EPA establish limits on airplane emissions.
The aviation industry has come out in favor of imposing these regulations on its own planes. It wants U.S. rules on greenhouse gases to be harmonized with soon-to-be-established international standards, which the industry will have to comply with regardless of what Trump’s EPA does.
The executive order also gave no indication that Trump will put a halt to the work federal agencies have been doing on promoting biogas generation, another of the priorities listed in Obama’s Climate Action Plan.
Since 2014, the EPA has been working with the Departments of Agriculture and Energy to help livestock farmers turn the waste from their animals into biogas fuel, rather than allowing it to decompose into climate-harming methane. A joint 2014 report from the agencies laid out a plan to promote this practice by allocating loans to farmers and grants to biogas researchers, among other measures.
Patrick Serfass, head of the trade group American Biogas Council, said his emerging industry was likely excluded from the executive order because of many other economic benefits to biogas generation, aside from reducing methane emissions.
“We don’t have to talk about the climate benefits to make a really compelling point as to why it’s important,” he told Bloomberg BNA. “We’ve stopped using our climate-related messages because the other ones are resonating more.”
To contact the reporter on this story: David Schultz in Washington at dSchultz@bna.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at email@example.com
Copyright © 2017 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)