If you ask Brandon Hurlbut what he thinks of President Trump’s “Energy Independence” executive order, he’ll tell you, “This has nothing to do with energy independence.”
Hurlbut, former Department of Energy chief of staff under Secretary Steven Chu and partner at Boundary Stone Partners, pointed out that the U.S. generates its electricity from renewables, natural gas and coal -- all of which are domestic resources. The executive order signed earlier this week triggers a review and rollback of federal regulations on carbon emissions and fossil fuels in the name of promoting energy independence, as well as economic growth.
“So I think the Trump administration is being disingenuous on that, just like they have on many other things, including the fact that he promised coal workers he would bring their jobs back,” said Hurlbut, speaking in GTM’s latest Facebook video interview. “That’s like saying we’re going to save the VCR industry. We have moved on. We have better technology out there.”
For Shane Skelton, former energy policy adviser to Paul Ryan and co-founder of S2C Pacific, the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan was always an imperfect way to address carbon emissions. After the failure of the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill in 2009, the Clean Power Plan became Obama’s way of going at the climate issue alone, “and often when you do that in policy, you end up with something not very good,” Skelton said.
Trump’s new executive order is intended to weaken or throw out the Clean Power Plan through a review process. What the order did not address was the EPA’s 2009 “endangerment finding,” which made the EPA legally responsible for regulating carbon dioxide. The administration likely avoided it, to the frustration of some conservatives, because it would invite a lengthy court battle.
Environmentalists have pledged to fight Trump’s climate policy attack at every step. Several groups have already launched a lawsuit against Trump’s order to lift a ban on leasing federal land for coal mining. And the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and other allies filed a lawsuit today against Trump’s recent approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
What else is on the agenda for the climate and environment movement? Are there new fronts to fight on? We discuss all of this and more in the latest episode of GTM’s Facebook video show.