Trump Instructs Federal Agencies to Stop Considering Climate Change

Trump signs the executive order at the EPA. Trump signs the executive order at the EPA. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

President Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday overturning a requirement that federal agencies consider climate change in their operations, saying it would reduce regulation and create jobs.

Trump’s action repealed an executive order signed by President Obama in 2013 that aimed to “enhance climate preparedness and resilience” at federal agencies. Obama instructed agencies to issue plans spelling out risks climate change poses to agency missions and the specific actions agencies will take to mitigate those risks.

Agencies had to consider resilience to climate change in choosing suppliers, making property investments and conducting building upgrades. Obama encouraged “coordinated interagency efforts” to support climate preparedness at all levels of government. The efforts attempted to place pressure on local governments to use federal grants to build infrastructure that both reduces non-renewable energy usage and prepare communities for the impacts of climate change -- such as droughts, wildfires and sea-level rise.

The president also rolled back Obama-era memoranda requiring federal agencies to protect and minimize harmful effects on land, water, wildlife and other natural resources, as well as an initiative to incorporate climate change considerations into national security policy. He is also looking to change the formula agencies use when issuing regulations to determine the economic and social costs of greenhouse gas emissions.

Trump left in place a 2015 Obama order calling on agencies to reduce their direct greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2025. It required agencies to receive 30 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by the same period and to award $4 billion in contracts to improve energy and water efficiency by 2017. As of September 2016, agencies had already awarded $3.4 billion toward those contracts with an additional $2.8 billion in the pipeline. Agencies were on track toward their efficiency goals -- according to data on -- cutting greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 18 percent and receiving 8 percent of their energy from renewable sources.

The president signed the executive order at the Environmental Protection Agency in front of EPA employees, which some detractors saw as a slap in the face to those workers. Trump, however, praised those employees, saying the work they did was “so important.”

“I want to thank the public servants who are with us,” Trump said, “who are doing important work to protect our health and public resources.” The Trump administration, which recently proposed cutting the one-fifth of the agency’s workforce and nearly one-third of its budget, has butted heads with EPA employees during his time in office.

The president added his actions would rein in a bureaucracy that has stood in the way of American workers.

“The action I'm taking today will eliminate federal overreach and allow our workers to thrive, compete and succeed on a level playing field for the first time in a long time,” Trump said.

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