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Major Climate Change Rules the Trump Administration Is Reversing

Major Climate Change Rules the Trump Administration Is Reversing

The move to rescind environmental rules governing emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, brings to 84 the total number of environmental rules that the Trump administration has worked to repeal. Officials at the White House, the Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies have called the regulations burdensome to the fossil fuel industry and other businesses.

Half of those environmental rollback attempts, like the new methane reversal, will undercut efforts by previous administrations to reduce emissions and fight climate change. Many of these efforts have been challenged in the courts; whether the administration will succeed in achieving all of its goals is far from certain. Here are some of the most significant climate-related reversals:

One critical effort by the Trump administration was its announcement in 2017 that it would withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement. The process of withdrawing cannot be completed until 2020, but the move sent a strong signal to the world that Mr. Trump, who has scoffed at climate science, would be taking action at many levels of government to reverse climate policies created during the Obama administration.

Thursday’s decision to remove restrictions on methane leaks from oil and gas wells is only one administration effort on behalf of fossil fuel producers. Burning natural gas produces half of the carbon dioxide that burning coal does, but methane, the chief component of natural gas, has a powerful effect on climate change. Though it does not persist in the atmosphere as long as carbon dioxide does, it has 80 times the heat-trapping power of carbon dioxide during 20 years in the atmosphere. The Obama administration had passed many rules to reduce methane leaks. An early effort by the E.P.A. under the former administrator Scott Pruitt to reverse Obama-era rules on leaks from new oil and gas wells was declared illegal by the courts in 2017.

Transportation is the United States’ biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions, and fuel efficiency standards were a signature Obama administration proposal for reducing those emissions, as well as other air pollution created by vehicles. Earlier this month, the Trump administration proposed freezing antipollution and fuel-efficiency standards for cars. The proposal puts the administration on a collision course with California, which sets its own stringent tailpipe standards — and even with automakers, who wish to avoid the complexity of dealing with two car markets with different emissions standards.

The Clean Power Plan, President Obama’s effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by regulating carbon dioxide from existing fossil-fuel-powered electricity plants, was a big target for Mr. Trump, who campaigned in coal country on a promise to revive the ailing industry. He called for the E.P.A. to dismantle the Clean Power Plan in 2017. The planned substitute, unveiled in June as the Affordable Clean Energy Rule, is the administration’s most sweeping plan to extend the lives of coal-burning plants and shore up the mining industry — an industry more threatened by economic change than regulation.

In December 2017, President Trump embarked on the biggest land protection rollback in United States history when he squeezed two national monuments in Utah by some two million acres. The move shrank Bears Ears National Monument by 85 percent, and reduced Grand Staircase-Escalante by about half. The two monuments had received protection in the Obama and Clinton administrations. Subsequent reporting on the Bears Ears decision showed that it was guided by hopes for oil drilling.

Similarly, the Trump administration is rushing to clear the way for oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The Trump administration has said it will allow offshore oil and gas drilling in nearly all coastal waters of the United States, including the California coast, the Arctic and the Eastern Seaboard, as part of its “energy dominance” agenda. The decision reversed an Obama administration ban. It also repealed offshore drilling safety regulations put in place after the Deepwater Horizon spill. The administration delayed the release of its formal proposal, however, after a federal judge decision declared the initial executive order about the plan unlawful.

The fossil fuel industry and other businesses have long bristled at the Endangered Species Act, which can restrict their ability to mine, drill and conduct other activity where threatened flora and fauna can be found. Earlier this month, the administration said it would change the act in ways that will make it harder to protect wildlife from climate change and other threats. The changes would make it easier to remove species from the endangered list, would allow a protection decision to be influenced by economic assessments, and make it more difficult to factor in effects of climate change that may be decades away. Even before that, however, the Interior Department opened nine million acres of Western land to oil and gas drilling by weakening habitat protections for the sage grouse, an imperiled bird beloved for its elaborate mating dance.

For more news on climate and the environment, follow @NYTClimate on Twitter.

John Schwartz is part of the climate team. Since joining The Times in 2000, he has covered science, law, technology, the space program and more, and has written for almost every section. @jswatz • Facebook

A version of this article appears in print on

, Section A, Page 22

of the New York edition

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A Sampling of Climate Rules That Are Being Reversed. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

CreditClockwise from top left: Mike Blake/Reuters; Katie Orlinsky for NYT; Brandon Thibodeaux for NYT; Jennifer Strickland/USFWS; Jim Wilson/NYT; Al Drago/NYT; Brandon Thibodeaux for NYT; Alex Goodlett for NYT

Source:  New York Times

By:  John Schwartz
Aug. 29, 2019



Trump Admin Reverses Standards for Energy Efficient Light Bulbs

Olivia Rosane
4-5 minutes






Energy efficient led lamps at an exhibition. Yurou Guan / Moment / Getty Images

The Trump administration is rolling back energy efficiency standards for light bulbs that would have kept millions of tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, CNBC reported Wednesday.

The Department of Energy (DOE) announced Wednesday it would reverse a requirement that three-way, recessed can, candle-shaped and round bulbs switch from incandescent and halogen bulbs to more energy-efficient LED varieties. The requirement would have gone into effect in January 2020 and would have impacted bulbs that fill 2.7 billion U.S. sockets, nearly half the sockets in the country, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) explained.

The DOE also said it would not update standards for bulbs still included in a light-bulb efficiency regulation, like common pear-shaped bulbs. Together, the two decisions will add $14 billion to yearly U.S. energy bills up to 2025 and consume at least 25 power plants worth of energy annually, the NRDC calculated.

“The Energy Department flat out got it wrong today,” Alliance to Save Energy President Jason Hartke said of the rollback, as CNBC reported. “Instead of moving us forward, this rule will keep more energy-wasting bulbs on store shelves and saddle the average American household with about $100 in unnecessary energy costs every year. Wasting energy with inefficient lightbulbs isn’t just costly for homes and businesses, it’s terrible for our climate.”

The reversed regulation has its origins in a bill that passed Congress and was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2007. That bill aimed to phase out incandescent and halogen bulbs by 2020, according to the NRDC. It was updated in 2017 to include the reflector, candle-shaped, three-way and round bulbs that the DOE is now excluding.

The NRDC claims the rollback is illegal because it violates the “anti-backsliding” provision that says the DOE cannot weaken standards once they are put in place.

“We will explore all options, including litigation, to stop this completely misguided and unlawful action,” Noah Horowitz, director of the NRDC’s Center for Energy Efficiency Standards, said in a statement reported by CNBC.

However, DOE spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes told The New York Times that the 2007 law only mandated the department issue standards when “economically justified.” She argued that the reversed standards were not.

The rollback “will ensure that the choice of how to light homes and businesses is left to the American people, not the federal government,” she said.

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association, the trade association for light bulb makers, praised the DOE’s decision and said it “will not impact the market’s continuing, rapid adoption of energy-saving lighting.”

But Andrew deLaski, executive director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, questioned the motives of the light bulb makers. He told NPR that a single LED light bulb can last a consumer 10 years or more, which means the companies have an interest in encouraging the continued use of shorter-lasting, less efficient bulbs.

But for everyone besides the light bulb makers, preserving inefficient bulbs is wrong-headed.

“The Trump administration is trying to protect technology that was first invented in the 1800s. It’s like trying to protect the horse and buggy from the automobile technology. It makes no sense to go back to technology from two centuries ago, when we have new technology today which saves consumers money and helps protect the environment by reducing the amount of power that we need,” deLaski told NPR.


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