President Donald Trump has signed an executive order rolling back Obama-era rules aimed at curbing climate change.
The president said this would put an end to the “war on coal” and “job-killing regulations”.
The Energy Independence Executive Order suspends more than half a dozen measures enacted by his predecessor, and boosts fossil fuels.
Business groups have praised the Trump administration’s move but environmental campaigners have condemned it.
Outside the White House, a few hundred protesters gathered to vent their displeasure at the executive order.
Inside, the president was flanked by coal miners as he signed the order, saying: “My administration is putting an end to the war on coal.
This order signed by President Trump is both a practical and a philosophical attempt to change the US narrative on climate change.
His supporters say it will create thousands of jobs in the liberated oil and gas industries. His opponents agree the new order will be a job creator – but they’ll be jobs for lawyers, not in the coal fields.
Front and centre is practical action on the Clean Power Plan (CPP), the Obama project to cut fossil fuels from energy production. Although it has long been tied up in the courts, the new administration will leave it to fester there while they come up with a much weaker replacement.
There will also be new, less restrictive rules on methane emissions from the oil and gas industry and more freedom to sell coal leases from federal lands.
President Trump is signalling a significant change in the widely held philosophy that CO2 is the enemy, the main driver of climate change.
US environmentalists are aghast but also enraged. They will be queuing up to go to court. But in many ways that’s playing into the hands of President Trump and the fossil fuel lobby. “Delay is what they want,” one green source told me, “delay is winning.”
All that fuss and angst over a bad assumption in a 1950s era climate model, which led to the carbon dioxide theory of global warming. Book coming soon.