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Policy & Politics

Published on March 27th, 2017 | by Tina Casey


What If They Killed The Clean Power Plan & Nobody Cared?

March 27th, 2017 by  

This Tuesday, President Trump will follow through two campaign promises with one stroke of the pen: rolling back the Clean Power Plan and bringing back coal jobs. That’s according to EPA chief Scott Pruitt, who let the cat out of the bag during a television appearance over the weekend.

In other words, the next few months should be very interesting.

Clean Power Plan Trump golf

Clean Power Plan Gets The Old Heave-Ho

For those of you new to US governance, the Clean Power Plan was established by executive order of former President Obama, and what one President giveth another can taketh.

Considering the current state of affairs in the Republican-lead Congress and within President Trump’s own staff, executive orders are practically the only means left by which the President can make good on his campaign promises.

In other words, don’t expect every pen within reach of President Trump to suddenly stop functioning on Tuesday. If he says he’s gonna sign it, he’ll sign it.

Here’s an excerpt from a rush transcript of EPA chief Scott Pruitt on the ABC News program, discussing Trump’s forthcoming “Energy Independence” executive order:

…We have made tremendous progress on our environment. And we can be both pro-jobs and pro-environment. And the executive order will address the past administration’s efforts to kill jobs across this country through the clean power plant.

That line about “efforts to kill jobs” may be somewhat confusing to those of you who follow employment statistics. If the past administration — aka former President Obama — was making an effort to kill jobs it failed miserably, particularly in the energy sector.

This was gently pointed out by the host of This Week, George Stephanopoulos, with the help of a visual device called a chart:

…Most of the job loss predates the Obama initiative. I want to put up a chart right there. It showed the biggest drops came over several — a decade ago. And you have about the same number of coal jobs now as you did a decade ago.

So, are you worried at all the president is making a promise to coal country that he just can’t keep?

Sick burn there, George. However, Pruitt did not back down. Here’s one last snippet from the interview:

STEPHANOPOULOS: But will [the executive order] bring back coal jobs?

PRUITT: I think absolutely it will.

How To Fail At Killing Energy Jobs

Pruitt seems rather confident about the prospects for creating new coal jobs by rolling back the Clean Power Plan, though he does check himself with that “I think.”

That’s probably a wise hedge. The coal industry has been cannibalizing its own jobs for generations without help from the Clean Power Plan, mainly because massive machines and explosives have replaced hand carts and pick axes.

Under the Obama Administration, rapid growth in the US natural gas sector was the primary factor in the shrinkage of domestic demand for coal.

The stakeholder consensus is that the coal market will continue to decline, Clean Power Plan or not.

On the other hand, job prospects in the clean energy and energy efficiency sectors have been accelerating and show no signs of slowing down.

Going by Stephanopoulos’s numbers, President Obama failed mildly at killing coal jobs compared to his predecessor.

More to the point, Obama failed spectacularly at killing jobs in the energy sector, including oil and gas as well as wind and solar.

If Trump really wants his job-creating numbers to blow up, he should take a look at all the Obama-era programs and start ticking off the ones that he can take credit for.

Just one sample is the energy efficiency sector, where a recent Energy Department survey came up with 198,000 new hires anticipated by employers for 2017.

Seriously, Start Checking Off Those Boxes

The Department of Energy kindly provided CleanTechnica with links to its news items since Election Day, which illustrates the prospects for continued job creation in the clean energy field.

Following is the entire list, presented as a public service by CleanTechnica for anyone over at the White House who has time to go through and pick out the ones that make President Trump look like he spends a lot more time creating jobs than hitting golf balls.

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Photo: Golf ball by Peter Drach via flickr.com, creative commons license.



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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

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