Skip to Primary Navigation Skip to Primary Content Skip to Footer Navigation

Hyperbolic Reaction to Trump’s Executive Order

By:
Edward A. Reid Jr.
Posted On:
May 16, 2017  at  at 8:04 AM
Category
Climate Change

The general reaction of the consensed climate science community, the environmentalist community, the progressive political class, and the “mainstream” media to the Trump Presidential Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth has been marked by a degree of hyperbole bordering on the unhinged. The EO has been accused of doing several things which it does not do, nor even intend to do.

One major focus of the reaction has been aimed at the Administration’s intent to remove support for the Clean Power Plan. This is viewed as an attempt to reinvigorate the US coal industry, though the intent is actually to allow operators of existing coal-fired electric generating plants to continue to operate those plants to meet their customers’ electric needs; and, to allow the construction of new coal-fired generating stations, if approved by the State Utility Commissions with jurisdiction over the serving utilities. The EO does not affect existing State Renewable Portfolio Standards, nor does it reduce or eliminate existing federal programs to encourage wind and solar generation development and use. The EO does not require a reversion from current environmental dispatch protocols to economic dispatch. The EO does not affect any existing federal emissions regulations regarding criteria pollutants. The EO merely states the intent not to enforce the proposed CO2 emissions limits imposed by the CPP, which are not currently economically achievable on either new or existing coal generators with commercially available and demonstrated control equipment.

Trump’s critics have proclaimed that the Clean Power Plan is the salvation of the future of life as we know it; and, that not enforcing it will make no difference because its objectives will be achieved anyway. There is reasonable likelihood that the truth lies somewhere between these extreme positions.

A second major focus is the intent to abandon or substantially revise the current Social Cost of Carbon calculation. The current SCC estimate of ~$40 per ton is believed to be exaggerated; and, to completely ignore the social benefits of increased atmospheric CO2, such as the NASA-documented “greening” of the planet. Increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations have been experimentally determined to increase plant growth rates and to improve the efficiency with which plants use available water.

The intent of the SCC calculations was to be a precursor to a carbon tax or fee (essentially a “sin” tax) intended to drive up the costs of fossil fuels and produce large incremental federal revenues. One proposal for a “fully refundable carbon tax” is discussed here in all its redistributionist glory.

A third significant focus is the intent to reopen federal lands to fossil fuel exploration and production. Most of the growth of natural gas reserves over the past eight years has been the result of exploration and production on private lands. While this has been effective in dramatically increasing availability and reducing cost, the limitations to E&P on federal lands has taken many highly regarded development prospects “off the table” and led to the development of less attractive prospects because they are on private land and thus accessible.

Perhaps the most shocked reactions to the explanations of the Administration positions which led to this Executive Order have been to the extremely blunt response by Administration Budget Director Mick Mulvaney to questions about climate change funding in the President’s Budget Outline. Mulvaney is quoted as responding that he believed the President had been quite clear that he believed that funding was a waste of taxpayers’ money and that the Administration would not be funding that in the future.

 

Related Articles:

Cornwall Alliance Fights Climate Ugliness