- Federal environmental policy did an abrupt 180 this week, as President Trump signed an executive order to review the Clean Power Plan and undo several other rules targeting greenhouse gas emissions. But it remains an open question just how big of an impact those actions will have.
- The Washington Post reports states and cities across the country are likely to continue efficiency and renewables efforts, as the programs and goals are popular, tend to save money, and create jobs.
- There is widespread skepticism that Trump's climate actions can roll back the decline of the coal industry, for example. The falling cost of renewables and natural gas, and rise of efficiency, appear to make a long-term decline inevitable.
When President Trump signed an executive order this week to roll back climate protections, he told the group of coal miners on stage with him that "you're going back to work." But are they?
The order may keep some plants online longer, but market forces are increasingly pushing marginal coal facilities to the brink. Adding to that, the coal industry is increasingly automated, so it's unclear how much a bump in production would impact employment.
As the Post reports, cities and states are not planning to halt their environmental efforts. Jim Brainard, the Republican mayor of Carmel, Ind., reminded the newspaper that, "for a long time, taking care of our environment was a nonpartisan issue. ... I have yet to meet a Republican or Democrat who wants to drink dirty water or breathe dirty air.”
Carmel, like many municipal governments and states, has been investing in efficiency and clean energy. Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser this month announced legislation to establish a green bank, in order to fund efficiency upgrades, add renewables, lower emissions and create jobs. Other states have taken similar approaches to financing efficiency, including New York and Connecticut.
President Obama's signature environmental action, the Clean Power Plan, would cut emissions from existing power plants 32% by 2030. It is being challenged in court, but Trump's Department of Justice has asked the D.C. Circuit Court to drop the case.