Skip Navigation LinksMy Argus / News / News Story

Trump to change climate at EPA

09 Nov 2016 21:42 GMT
Trump to change climate at EPA

Washington, 9 November (Argus) — Climate change is likely to take a backseat to other issues in the administration of president-elect Donald Trump, who will likely push to stop the US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) efforts to reduce CO2 emissions from the power sector.

Trump signaled a number of times during the election campaign that he does not consider climate change to be a major concern and has pledged to reduce environmental regulations. He has also said he plans to "refocus" the EPA on its core mission of ensuring clean air and water.

That shift could take place under the leadership of climate change skeptic Myron Ebell, director of the Center for Energy and Environment at Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free-market advocacy group. Trump has tapped Ebell to lead his EPA transition team and could end up leading the agency himself.

Other potential picks floated by some observers include New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection director Joe Aiello and Indiana Department of Environmental Management commissioner Carol Comer.

The prospects of such a shift has cheered the coal industry, which has viewed EPA's actions under President Barack Obama as detrimental to their business. Trump's election is "a great day for America," Murray Energy chief executive Bob Murray said.

One of the first acts of the new administrator is likely to be a repeal of the Clean Power Plan, the centerpiece climate policy of President Barack Obama, which requires each state's power sector to meet CO2 targets in 2022-2030. During the campaign, Trump said he would rescind the regulations, with one of his advisers saying it would be done on Day One of the new administration. But it may not be that easy to do.

"It is a virtual certainty the Clean Power Plan will be revoked. The question now is how," energy lobbyist and former EPA official Jeff Holmstead said on a call hosted by his law firm Bracewell.

The prospect the Clean Power Plan could be repealed, thereby foreclosing the possibility of new interstate emissions trading program to meet the federal standard, may have affected the nine-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) CO2 allowance market today. December-delivery RGGI allowances have traded as low as $4.20/short, a roughly 9.5pc drop from yesterday's Argus assessment of $4.64/st.

Much will depend on how the courts rule in the ongoing litigation against the regulations. The DC Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in the case in late September and could issue a rule just before Trump takes office. That ruling is likely to be appealed to the US Supreme Court.

If the Clean Power Plan is overturned by the courts, then that would be the end of it. But if it survives largely intact, then rescinding it would require a full notice-and-comment rulemaking, Holmstead said. Such processes usually take about a year to complete and a court fight would likely follow.

But Holmstead predicted "the environmental community will have a hard time challenging that" because they would have to convince a court that EPA is required by law to enact the regulations.

Environmental groups are already signaling a willingness to oppose Trump if he scuttles the Clean Power Plan or other environmental regulations "Trump better choose wisely, otherwise we can guarantee him the hardest fight of his life every step of the way," Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune said.