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Targeting climate policy, Trump makes a promise he can't keep

Donald Trump isn't just pushing a regressive climate agenda. He's also lying to many of his own supporters about what his energy plan will accomplish.
Image: U.S. President Trump displays executive order on \"energy independence\" during event at EPA headquarters in Washington
U.S. President Donald Trump holds up an executive order on \"energy independence,\" eliminating Obama-era climate change regulations, during a signing ceremony...
Given the fact that Donald Trump, as a presidential candidate, described climate change as a "hoax," cooked up by the Chinese as part of an elaborate conspiracy, it doesn't come as too big of a surprise that Trump, as a president, would go after his predecessor's Clean Power Plan. It did, however, come as a surprise to see Trump deliberately mislead some of his supporters about his approach.NBC News summarized today's developments, noting the president's latest executive order.

The order asks the Environmental Protection Agency to review Obama's Clean Power Plan, which sought to reduce carbon pollution from power plants and is considered one of the past administration's signature pieces of climate policy. The plan's implementation was already put on hold by the Supreme Court in February of 2016.

This is clearly a major development, but it kicks off a larger conflict. As Vox's report explained, "Trump's administration will now spend years trying to rewrite rules and fend off legal challenges from environmentalists. And it's not clear they'll always prevail: Some of President Obama's climate policies may prove harder to uproot than thought."That's certainly true, though it's still an international embarrassment for the United States to abandon its leadership role; it risks exacerbating the existing crisis; and it makes it very unlikely we'll meet our own goals and targets as part of the Paris Accord.But as this process unfolds, it's worth remembering that much of today's regressive shift is built on falsehoods -- and not just about science.USA Today noted, for example, "The order makes good on Trump's promise to end what he called a 'war on coal,' and to bring back coal jobs. 'I made them this promise. We will put our miners back to work,' Trump said Tuesday."No, actually he won't.

[T]he US coal industry is dying regardless of anything Trump does, said industry experts, with fewer than 100,000 jobs now largely concentrated in Appalachian states."It won't add any coal jobs, but it will set back the country as a leader on the environment," finance director Tom Sanzillo of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis based in Cleveland told BuzzFeed News. Coal is a declining industry that serves up a product, energy, that costs more than wind, solar, and natural gas."That isn't going to change and the fundamentals are inescapable," Sanzillo said. "Nobody in the industry has a serious plan to reverse that."Robert Murray, head of the largest private US coal firm, Murray Coal, for example, told The Guardian on Monday that Trump should "temper his expectations" on reviving coal industry jobs, adding: "He can't bring them back."

A New York Times report added, "[C]oal miners also should not assume their jobs will return if Trump's regulations take effect." The article an energy economist added that "we could see a decrease in coal jobs," even with Trump's regressive agenda.The president told people who trust him, while signing his executive order, "You know what it says, right? You're going back to work." It doesn't say that at all. Maybe Trump didn't read the policy before signing, maybe he didn't brush up on the details before reading from his trusted teleprompter this afternoon, but either way, his assurances were plainly wrong.* Postscript: To give you a sense of the state of the debate, such as it is, the White House held a background briefing last night, in which a reporter asked, "What about all the scientists who are saying climate change is going to have adverse economic consequences -- things like rising sea levels, more hazardous hurricanes -- how do you address those economic arguments?"The senior Trump administration official responded, "Again, you'll have to talk to those scientists. Maybe I can talk to you afterward. I'm not familiar with what you're talking about."