On March 28th, President Trump signed the Energy Independence Executive Order, directing EPA head, Scott Pruitt, to rescind President Obama’s 2015 Clean Power Plan (CPP). Other measures in the executive order include lifting the ban on leasing federal land for coal production and removing some restrictions on oil, natural gas, and shale energy production. If implemented, this order would enable more fossil fuel combustion at lower efficiency. New York leaders, as well as some from other states, have already responded with the resolve to fight Trump’s order.
Background of the CPP
The CPP was supposed to be President Obama’s contribution to the 2015 Paris Agreement, at which 196 countries agreed to limit global warming to 2°C. The Obama Administration expected the CPP to reduce the U.S.’s greenhouse gas emissions 26-28% by 2025 with three main strategies:
Increasing the efficiency of coal-burning power plants that currently exist
Substituting natural gas for coal, which would cut emissions
Substituting clean renewables for fossil fuels generation
States were required to submit emissions reduction plans, which the EPA would enforce. However, in 2016, the Supreme Court ordered a stay on the EPA’s enforcement after twenty-seven states petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals
New York’s Response
New York Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, has already told the press he expects Trump’s order to face legal challenges. Since New York is an advocate in the CPP legal battle, it could be among the party that challenges an effort to repeal it. Schneiderman also commented that repealing the CPP would also require Trump to replace it, referring to Trump’s recent failure to replace the Affordable Care Act.
NYLCV President Marcia Bystryn said at a panel discussion on NY1: “Fighting climate change isn’t driven by what the president says in a climate plan,” and noted that a significant number of Republicans also want to act on climate. Local and state legislation can encourage innovation and private sector technology growth. Coal is already becoming more and more economically inviable, and states can keep backing renewable innovation regardless of the federal government.
Governor Cuomo, in conjunction with California Governor Edmund Brown, has also spoken out against the Energy Independence Executive Order, calling it “profoundly misguided.” Both states have some of the most aggressive emissions reductions standards in the nation and jointly represent 20% of the nation’s gross domestic product, so their standards carry a great deal of weight on market forces. Governor Cuomo plans to keep New York working for itself, and with other partners, to uphold its climate goals, including Reforming the Energy Vision, Clean Energy Standard, and the 40×30 and 80×50 plans.