While President Trump will need legislative approval by Congress to accomplish parts of his economic policy agenda, he can also implement several critical initiatives on his sole authority as chief executive. Increasing the affordability of both U.S. and global energy is an important economic and humanitarian objective and should be at the top of the list. The following three actions are among the most critical Mr. Trump can take to roll back the outgoing administration’s job-killing assault on affordable energy.
End U.S. participation in the Paris Climate Agreement and defund the U.N. Green Climate Fund. Contrary to claims by the Obama administration, the recently negotiated Paris Climate Agreement is no mere update of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It is a new treaty, designed to lock future administrations and Congresses into a policy straitjacket inimical to the production, transport, and use of America’s most affordable and abundant energy source — fossil fuels, including coal, gas, and oil.
President Obama refused to submit the agreement to the Senate for its “advice and consent,” as required by the Constitution, even though the pact entails greater costs and risks for the United States than any environmental agreement in history. Why did the president refuse? Because there was no chance the Senate would consent to new international climate commitments. Mr. Trump should formally withdraw from the agreement while clarifying that we never properly joined. He then should submit the agreement to the Senate for a ratification vote, where it would likely fail.
For similar reasons, the incoming administration should zero out the hundreds of millions of dollars of annual funding for the Paris agreement’s foreign aid program, Green Climate Fund.
Overturn the Clean Power Plan. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) so-called Clean Power Plan (CPP) is an unlawful power grab that will increase consumer electricity prices, reduce U.S. job and economic growth, and have no discernible impacts on global warming or sea-level rise. The CPP is an attempt to inflate a three-sentence, seldom-used provision of the Clean Air Act, Section 111(d), into a mandate for decarbonizing the U.S. electric power sector, a purpose Congress has not approved.
Instead of setting emission performance standards that actually require fossil-fuel power plants to improve their performance (reduce the quantity of emissions per megawatt hour), the CPP imposes standards no individual plant can meet, and then gives owners the “choice” to comply by reducing output, shutting down the unit entirely, or “investing” in new renewable generation. ‘Produce less,’ ‘shut down your facility,’ and ‘subsidize your competitor’s wind farm’ are illegitimate, nonperformance mandates, not bona fide Clean Air Act performance standards.