The wood-paneled Map Room at the EPA office was packed with media and government officials on Tuesday, March 28.
Secretary of Energy Rick Perry was present, who received over $1.6 million from the gas and oil industry during the 2016 campaign. Also present was the Trump-appointed EPA head, Scott Pruitt, who has received over $300,000 from the gas and oil industry in the last 15 years and had sued the EPA over 12 times as an Attorney General. Trump received over $1 million from oil and gas, including $500,000 from Exxon Mobile, after Trump announced CEO Rex Tillerson was his nominee for Secretary of State.
President Trump signed an executive order in the EPA office, shortly after proposing to cut their budget by almost one-third.
The executive order was written directly to eliminate efforts by the Obama administration to slow climate change and invest in renewable energy sources, rescinding one executive order and three presidential memorandum. The executive order also lifted a moratorium on federal coal leases intending to create more jobs in a dying coal industry.
Investment and energy insiders are skeptical of the effect the order will have on jobs.
“Even by doing this you are not going to be bringing mining jobs back,” said Sheldon Stone, a partner at Amherst Partners, LLC, an investment banking firm.
Experts say power plants moving towards natural gas and other forms of energy are causing the loss of coal jobs, rather than regulations. Six plants have either closed or announced their closure since Trump was elected, with another 40 expected to close in the next 4 years.
According to the Department of Energy, use of coal in power production has decreased by 53 percent since 2003, while natural gas use has increased by 22 percent.
Trump also rescinded two environmental reports of the Obama area that included peer-reviewed science and plans relating to ecological crises titled “The President’s Climate Action Plan,” and “Climate Action Plan Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions.”
“Today, we’re taking a great step in breaking the restraints that have become burdens,” said Perry, who partially owns several energy companies.
The notion that environmental regulation is bad for business is a common one, but the new administration is taking a clear stance that places business above environment.
“We’re not going to allow regulations here at the EPA to pick winners and losers,” said Pruitt.
The move comes from an administration full of purported climate change skeptics including Trump, Pruitt, Perry, and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, who was on-hand for the signing.
Trump also invited coal miners to be present for the signing of the order, heaping praise on them and the coal industry during his speech.
“You know what this is, right? You’re going back to work,” Trump told a coal worker just before signing the order.
Story by K. Rambo