President Trump is expected to sign an executive order on Tuesday to roll back most of President Barack Obama’s climate change legacy, celebrating the move as a way to increase the nation’s “energy independence” and to restore thousands of lost coal mining jobs.
But energy economists say the expected order falls short of both of those goals — in part because the United States already largely relies on domestic sources for the coal and natural gas that fires most of the nation’s power plants.
“We don’t import coal,” said Robert Stavins, an energy economist at Harvard University. “So in terms of the Clean Power Plan, this has nothing to do with so-called energy independence whatsoever.”
Administration officials said the new order would direct the Environmental Protection Agency to start the legal process of withdrawing and rewriting the Clean Power Plan, Mr. Obama’s climate change policy. Scott Pruitt, the E.P.A. administrator, said in an interview on ABC News on Sunday that it will help the United States “be both pro-jobs and pro-environment” and described it as the “energy independence executive order.”
Yet, coal miners also should not assume their jobs will return if Trump’s regulations take effect.
The new order would mean that older coal plants that had been marked for closings would probably stay open, said Robert W. Godby, an energy economist at the University of Wyoming. That would extend the market demand for coal for up to a decade.
But even so, “the mines that are staying open are using more mechanization,” he said. “They’re not hiring people.”
“So even if we saw an increase in coal production, we could see a decrease in coal jobs,” he said.
Of course, this administration doesn't give a damn about the environment, and given the massive cuts in regulatory ability to keep food, water, and the air safe under this regime, the damage will almost certainly be irreversible.
I suspect the rest of the world will not stand idly by.