Federal agencies brace for Trump climate orders, budget numbers

Dive Brief:

  • Actions anticipated from President Trump this week could set in motion major federal energy policy changes aimed at rolling back Obama-era climate programs and scaling back the size of key agencies.
  • A set of highly-anticipated executive actions are expected to order the revision or repeal of the Clean Power Plan and end the use of the "social cost of carbon," which requires federal agencies to consider climate impacts when writing new rules. 
  • Trump is also expected to release partial federal budget proposals on Thursday, reportedly calling for the EPA budget to be cut by at least a quarter. Earlier media reports indicated the Department of Energy could be a target for deep cuts as well.  

Dive Insight:

Thursday could very well be D-Day for the Trump administration's energy policy plans. While schedules are subject to change, both executive orders on climate initiatives and agency budget proposals could drop tomorrow.

Last week, reports surfaced that Trump's executive order on the Clean Power Plan would only seek to "revise or rescind" the Obama-era carbon rules, and not explicitly push the EPA to issue new regulations. That could set up legal challenges over the agency's authority to regulate carbon emissions from power plants, energy lawyers said.

The CPP directive is expected to be accompanied by executive orders to end restrictions on coal production on federal lands, as well as the social cost of carbon, Bloomberg reports. Set at about $40/ton of CO2 emitted, the carbon metric is the foundation of Obama-era climate rules for a variety of sectors. 

Along with the executive orders, the EPA is also expected to be the target of steep budget cuts in the "skinny" budget proposals slated to detail topline budget proposal numbers on Thursday.

Last week, a number of outlets reported the agency would be the target for about $2 billion in budget cuts, or about 25% of its current funding. In recent days, however, the administration has reportedly been discussion over even deeper cuts, Axios reports. 

The EPA cuts are already attracting criticisms from some lawmakers. A bipartisan group of legislators last week wrote to Trump asking him to preserve funding for Great Lakes cleanup under the EPA, and key GOP lawmakers told E&E news this week they would carefully review the proposed cuts. 

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Filed Under: Regulation & Policy
Top image credit: Flickr - Gage Skidmore