Somebody should tell liberals having a collectivist heart attack over President Donald Trump withdrawing the U.S from the Paris
Climate Accord that it was largely non-binding — nowhere does the agreement outline specific, mandatory targets for reducing climate emissions.
This makes Trump’s removal from it largely symbolic. But nonetheless, the symbol was a good one; President Trump sent the strong message that the United States would put our economy before the economies of foreign nations.
The Paris agreement was essentially a series of voluntary, unenforceable pledges from nations to cut carbon emissions over the next few decades. Aside from the obvious problem with a voluntary, unenforceable agreement; Politico reported following the deals passage that MIT’s Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change found that these pledges would result in a shocking 0.2 degrees Celsius improvement in global temperature, while other groups have found no improvement at all.
While other countries were not forced to comply, the United States had already begun. Before the Paris Climate Accord even began, President Obama waged a war on American coal.
The real problem is not in Paris, but in Washington, D.C. — with the mountain of anti-coal regulations issued by the Obama administration the past eight years. The true responsibility lies with Congress and the administration to roll those back. The Obama administration cited those regulations as how the U.S. was complying with the Paris agreement — those are the rules that are truly holding the U.S. back.
President Obama used the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Clean Power Plan to expand executive control over state energy. The Clean Power Plan expanded the EPA’s control significantly by naming carbon dioxide as a harmful pollutant, giving the EPA authority to close a number of coal plants around the country.
As a result of the Obama regulations, the U.S. Energy Information Administration has found decline in coal power in every single state from 2007 to 2016. In Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana this meant a coal sector decrease by 49 percent, 44 percent and 37 percent, resulting in nearly 50,000 coal jobs lost in just five years of Obama’s presidential term.
Unfortunately, pulling out of the Paris agreement does little to change these facts on the ground. We have left the agreement, but Trump must still act, via the process under the Administrative Procedures Act to rescind these regulations and with Congress wielding its Article I power of the purse.
Other problems that must still be addressed include the EPA’s use of sue and settle lawsuits to expand their influence; where environmental groups sue the EPA and to avoid further litigation, the parties settle the suit and the EPA is given permission to address the issue with newly expanded powers.
President Obama provided the EPA with unrestricted growth power to intervene in the economies of every state in the country, making unraveling this web still an important task for the Trump Administration.
In March, Trump enacted the Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth which mandated that “The heads of agencies shall review all existing regulations, orders, guidance documents, policies, and any other similar agency actions (collectively, agency actions) that potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources, with particular attention to oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy resources.”
It also called for a full review of the Clean Power Plan by the newly appointed EPA Director Scott Pruitt to remove any regulations that provided wide latitude to the EPA onto state and local energy development.
President Trump has taken the necessary steps and has begun laying the groundwork for future success; he has removed the U.S. from the economically devastating Paris agreement, he has called for a review of existing regulations, and he has reined in the EPA’s powers significantly, but without Congress affirmatively act to prohibit the harmful regulations, any of these can be reinstated later by future administrations.
Leaders in Congress must follow through on Trump’s message to end the regulatory state. Trump proposed a significant cut to the agencies budget to Congress, which would finally restore state control over the energy sector and get coal workers back to their jobs.
President Trump has taken the right first steps to putting the American economy first, but now he must have Congress’ support to finish the job.