It offered, on a human level, more empty promises to the frightened miners who keep showing up to hear Mr. Pruitt say that coal is coming back, when any comeback is unlikely not because of regulation but because of powerful market forces favoring natural gas and renewables.
And it gave us another reminder that Mr. Trump is hellbent on abdicating the leadership on climate change Mr. Obama worked so hard to achieve â first with a suite of regulatory measures and then by making an emissions-reduction pledge at the 2015 Paris climate summit meeting strong enough to induce 194 other nations to sign on to what had all the makings of a historic global agreement.
Under that agreement, nations submitted voluntary pledges to curb their emissions in the near term and to ratchet up their efforts in the future; the idea was to limit the rise in global warming to well below two degrees Celsius (or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels. To that end, Mr. Obama promised that the United States, which accounts for one-fifth of the worldâs emissions, would lower its emissions by 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. The administration later published a report sketching out various technological pathways to cutting emissions 80 percent or more by 2050.
Then along came Mr. Trump, who in March ordered the destruction or delay of nearly every building block that supported Mr. Obamaâs pledge â rules aimed at increasing fuel efficiency of cars and trucks; rules aimed at limiting emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, from oil and gas wells; rules aimed at increasing the energy efficiency of appliances; and most important of all, the Clean Power Plan. Not long afterward, Mr. Trump commanded his secretary of the interior, Ryan Zinke, to reverse Mr. Obamaâs efforts to limit oil and gas exploration in Arctic waters and on sensitive federal lands, a task to which Mr. Zinke has fallen with great enthusiasm and which, if successful,…