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Trump EPA Takes Credit For Obama-Era CO2 Reductions

Climate
Fossil fuel use is the primary source of CO2. eflon / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 2.7 percent between 2016 and 2017, according to a report released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released on Wednesday.

Andrew Wheeler, the acting administrator of the EPA, touted that the report shows that regulations are unnecessary to slash carbon emissions.


"Thanks to President Trump's regulatory reform agenda, the economy is booming, energy production is surging, and we are reducing greenhouse gas emissions from major industrial sources," Wheeler said in a press release. "These achievements flow largely from technological breakthroughs in the private sector, not the heavy hand of government. The Trump Administration has proven that federal regulations are not necessary to drive CO2 reductions."

But as Axios' Amy Harder reported:

"This drop, between 2016 and 2017, is due largely to market forces and moves by President Obama and Congress, and occurred before President Trump officially took office. EPA's announcement contrasts with Trump, who in recent days has dismissed climate change as an issue."

Reuters reporter Timothy Gardner also pointed out that the country's falling carbon emissions coincides with the decline of coal, which produces more pollution than any other energy source.

America's coal plants are closing despite the Trump administration's efforts to bolster the struggling industry. The coal industry has also been unable to compete with the rise of the renewable energy sector as well as cheap natural gas, which emits less carbon dioxide than coal, Gardner said.

"In 2017 utilities shut or converted from coal-to-gas nearly 9,000 megawatts (MW) of coal plants," he noted. "The trend of U.S. coal plant shutdowns is expected to pick up this year, with power companies expecting to shut 14,000 MW of coal plants in calendar year 2018."

John Walke, a senior attorney and Clean Air Director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, was skeptical of the new EPA report.

Walke tweeted Wednesday that the Trump EPA "deserves zero credit" for falling greenhouse gas emissions and that the president's pro-fossil fuel agenda will actually "increase" emissions.

Greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. have been falling steadily since 2007 but environmentalists warn that the trend could reverse. The president intends to kill the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which caps coal plant emissions; he is letting fracking companies emit more methane, a greenhouse gas more potent than CO2; and he has blocked new fuel economy standards.

Last month, the Trump administration quietly released a study admitting that carbon pollution from cars and other sources will trigger a 7-degree rise in average worldwide temperatures by 2100.

President Trump also announced he's pulling the U.S. out of the Paris agreement after his advisors reportedly warned to him that the U.S. could not lower its emissions reductions commitments while remaining in the international climate accord.

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