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White House sharpens axe for Clean Power Plan

Seven weeks into the Trump presidency, the coal industry and electric utilities are getting restless for their promised relief from the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, which regulates carbon dioxide emissions. But they might not have to wait much longer, according to the authoritative energy news site E&E News, which is reporting that the administration is preparing to set the repeal in motion with an executive order as early as next week.

And there is no “… and replace” in the administration’s reported plans, which also include instructing the Justice Department to stop defending the rule in a case before a federal appeals court. The intention, according to E&E, is to rescind the controversial regulation and replace it with … nothing.

That approach is consistent with Trump’s promises during the campaign to revive the coal industry, and with EPA chief Scott Pruitt’s insistence that the science linking global warming to emissions of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels is uncertain. Pruitt said as much during his confirmation hearing in a testy exchange with Sen. Bernie Sanders, and again Thursday morning on CNBC, where he cited “tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact” from human activity.

As Sanders pointed out, the “disagreement” on this question, as measured by peer-reviewed scientific publications, is actually a 97% consensus in favor of the view that global warming is a human artifact. Each of the last three years has been, successively, the warmest on record.

A January report by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration concluded, “The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 2.0 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere.”

Trump himself has not been especially worried about global temperature increases throughout the years. Before he became president, he frequently called for additional warming.

“It’s really cold outside, they are calling it a major freeze, weeks ahead of normal. Man, we could use a big fat dose of global warming!” he tweeted in October of 2015.

The year before, Trump quipped: “It’s late in July and it is really cold outside in New York. Where the hell is GLOBAL WARMING??? We need some fast!”

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