President Donald Trump will have a difficult time undoing the economic devastation wrought by his first term of fossil fuel dominance in the United States, the industry’s biggest backer said Monday.
The president has already ordered the EPA to slash regulations that protect the coal industry from harmful air pollution and cut carbon pollution standards for power plants, but he will face more hurdles on other fronts, including the Keystone XL pipeline and other environmental issues.
Trump’s first 100 days have been a disaster for the coal and gas industries, who face widespread economic losses, according to a recent Associated Press analysis of industry data.
The U.S. coal industry was already hurting financially when the Trump administration’s EPA announced the coal-industry’s carbon pollution limits would be lowered in late 2016.
Trump has said he wants to revive the coal sector by rolling back the carbon pollution rules that had been in place since 2005, but it remains unclear how he would undo the climate regulations and whether the coal companies will be able to meet the new rules, which are aimed at keeping the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions from rising above the “safe” level.
“If you look at the history of this administration, it’s not clear how much of the damage they’re doing will be undone by a simple, simple decision to pull back on regulations,” Matt Wood, president of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, said at a news conference.
Wood said Trump has already taken several steps to undo the carbon rules, including issuing an executive order last month to reverse a ban on coal mining on federal lands.
He also signed an order this week that allows the Department of Energy to waive federal restrictions on certain power plants.
Trump signed the order without offering any details on what those steps would be, or how they would work.
“We will get to work on it as soon as possible,” he said in the signing statement.
“I will be signing executive orders that will make sure that we are in compliance with the law and the rule of law, and that we’re not hurting the economy,” Trump said.
“The EPA is a very powerful agency and we will not stand for their actions,” Trump added.
“They’ve taken away our power.
They’ve taken our jobs.”
Energy Information Administration said last month that coal’s carbon emissions fell by about 0.1% last year, compared to the previous year.
The decline was led by a surge in natural gas production, which is a far more carbon-intensive fuel than coal.
The decrease in CO2 emissions was attributed to natural gas burning and a shift from coal-fired power plants to gas-fired plants.
The industry has also seen significant declines in coal-related power generation in recent years.
But Wood said Trump’s EPA announcement could have a dramatic impact on coal companies and their ability to meet their carbon pollution goals.
The agency announced in 2016 that it would set carbon standards for the entire U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, including for coal- and gas-burning power plants in the U.K. and Canada.
The rules will require coal plants to reduce their emissions by at least 20% by 2025.
Wood also said Trump could try to roll back the Keystone pipeline, which was approved by the Trump campaign but was blocked by the Obama administration in the Supreme Court.
Wood said the president could use his executive powers to reverse the pipeline’s approval, but that that would be a risky move that could be met with protests and legal challenges.
Wood, who has advocated for coal and the U-2 spy plane, said he is worried that the president is “not thinking about the long-term impact of his actions.”
“He’s thinking about short-term gains at the moment,” Wood said.
“He’s not thinking about how it impacts our economy and how it affects jobs and economic growth.”
Wood said the coal industries have “made a lot of sacrifices” to remain competitive in the years since the 1980s, when the U,S.
and Soviet Union dominated the energy sector.
“The coal industry is a small business.
There are a lot more small businesses than there are coal companies,” he added.