Grijalva: Trump Order Ending Federal Climate Planning, Opening New Federal Coal Leases is “Major Self-Inflicted Wound”

Washington, D.C. – Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today called the Trump administration’s impending executive order canceling federal climate change planning and mitigation efforts and ending the federal coal leasing moratorium “a major self-inflicted wound” and pointed out that it would likely harm communities, in Appalachia and elsewhere, that the White House has promised to help.

Today’s order rolls back current rules mandating that federal agencies plan for the realities of how climate change will impact their mission and mitigate impacts wherever possible. It also cancels the moratorium on new federal coal leases that President Obama announced in January 2016 as part of a full review of the nation’s coal policies, which had not been updated to account for human health, climate change and fiscal responsibility in many years.

The order is the latest in a string of Republican giveaways to polluting industries since the beginning of the 115th Congress. It comes shortly after Trump signed a resolution from the Republican majority wiping out the Stream Protection Rule, a Department of the Interior standard that regulated the dumping of waste from mountaintop removal mining, a practice commonly used in Appalachian coal mining areas. Without the Stream Protection Rule, human health and environmental quality across the region are at severely increased risk of damage from mining waste.

Even major coal industry figures say Trump’s jobs promises are divorced from reality. As The Guardian reported on March 27, Robert Murray, the CEO of Murray Energy, has warned Trump to stop guaranteeing to bring back coal jobs:

Trump has consistently pledged to restore mining jobs, but many of those jobs were lost to technology rather than regulation and to competition from natural gas and renewables, which makes it unlikely that he can do much to significantly grow the number of jobs in the industry, said Murray.

“I suggested that he temper his expectations. Those are my exact words,” said Murray. “He can’t bring them back.”

“The American people want action on climate change, but the president claims it’s a Chinese hoax and his budget director has announced that responding to climate change is a waste of money,” Grijalva said today. “Restarting sales of subsidized federal coal won’t change the fact that natural gas is cheaper and cleaner. Failing to act on climate change, or plan for its inevitable impacts, is going to cost our grandchildren hundreds of billions of dollars, if not far more, down the road. Much of what the Trump administration has said about health care, or Russia, or wiretapping is just not true, and their talking points about our climate are just as misleading and even more irresponsible. We are going to learn the hard way that trashing the environment, kicking scientists out of the building and hanging a ‘For Sale’ sign on every public resource in sight will hurt the economy and the planet.”

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