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More Environmental Executive Orders are Coming. What Effect Will They Have?

President Trump is expected to sign executive orders next week that will lift a ban on mining for coal on federal lands and one that would force states to comply with carbon reductions. 

The president and most Republicans in Congress have long opposed the carbon-cutting Clean Power Plan that mandates 32% cuts by 2030. They have said that it hurts business, although several thousands of businesses support such endeavors including the likes of WalMart and Target — not to mention the major industrials such as Dupont and General Mills.

“Rescinding the federal coal leasing moratorium is part of that executive order, which has lots of different components, including the Clean Power Plan,” the White House official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters. The official told the news agency that the order was scheduled to come next week.

But how do you nullify a regulation that is now in the court system? Reuters said that the EPA could withdraw its case and ask that it be allowed to review the policy.

From previous reporting that Environmental Leader has done, the task of doing away with the ruling is a tough one. That’s because it has already passed legal muster on many levels — including the one to declare carbon dioxide a hazard to human health and the environment; the Supreme Court did so in 2007. The Trump administration’s best hope is that the US Supreme Court would strike the whole law down if it rises to that level again. Right now it is tied at 4-4.

Striking the coal ban on federal lands would be less cumbersome, says Reuters. That is simply a matter of asking the Interior Department to lift the restrictions.

Some history there:

Former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said that there had to be a “pause” on coal development on federal lands, noting that a thorough review of those policies had not occurred for more than 30 years. The Obama administration had wanted to review royalty fees paid to taxpayers for mining on public property as well the amount paid for leases — all part of the bigger picture in which the administration is addressing: a reduction in carbon emissions.

“Are taxpayers getting a fair return?” asked Secretary Jewell, at the time. “How do we make it more transparent?”

Environmentalists had applauded the effort while some westerners said that it was just another example of a strong-willed federal government. In 2013, the General Accountability Office said that Uncle Sam was selling both its resources and leasing its land on the cheap: $1.2 billion in royalties and lease fees from coal mined on public lands, to be exact, in 2014.

“We’re going to free up our country, and it’s going be done in a very environmental and positive environmental way, I will tell you that, but create millions of jobs,” Trump said during his address to the nation this week. “So many jobs are delayed for so many years, and it’s unfair to everybody.”

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